Health bill should cover alternative medicines

While those opposed to the passage of President Barack Obama’s landmark health care bill try to figure out ways to change the outcome, others are planning for the way their health care will change.

Unfortunately, many Americans who prefer alternative medicine will still go uncovered. According to a 2009 National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine press release, approximately 38 percent of adults in the U.S. use non-traditional therapies such as acupuncture and meditation. Americans spent nearly $34 billion out of pocket on alternative medicine the previous year, according to the press release.

Because naturopathic medicine is based more on preventative measures, it can cut down health care costs for the average person by encouraging healthier lifestyles.

Rebecca Snowden, a first year student at Tempe’s Southwest College of Naturopathy Medicine, said if the health care system promoted alternatives to Western medicine, the country would see less preventable diseases like diabetes or heart disease.

Snowden believes alternative and allopathic (Western) medicine can complement each other, but unfortunately the current system is too reaction-based.

It seems there is a new drug every day to fix whatever aches and pains we have. Furthermore, in a country where nutrition is not stressed and exercise is nearly removed from our fast-food society, otherwise preventable diseases are taking over the health of the population at epidemic rates.

It’s no wonder we need health care reform. We have become increasingly unhealthy over the years, and knowledge of the ingredients in our medicine is progressively removed from public consciousness.

Besides that, prescription drugs have side effects. For those Americans who are unwilling to risk the side effects and prefer more natural remedies to ease their symptoms, they have to pay out of pocket.

While Western medicine has led to cures for many diseases, it has also led our country into unhealthy habits. Alternative medicine is still negatively viewed by many who see it as outdated or ineffective, however, it is overall very different from allopathic medicine.

Students of naturopathic medicine are taught Western medicine alongside natural modalities, Snowden said. Western medicine is all evidence-based, which Snowden said gives it an advantage of seeming more trustworthy.

While alternative medicine is still empirically based, it deserves a shot. Americans who wish to see a naturopathic physician deserve to be covered — especially those concerned with preventative treatments.

The passage of health care reform is historic, but more needs to be done if the system is to truly change. We need to start thinking of how we can prevent diseases, instead of what drug is available in case we do get sick.

Reach Nicole at ndgilber@asu.edu


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