Health Care Insurance -Traditional Oriental Medicine Can Help Lower the Healthcare Cost

By Shihan Mary Bolz
Licensed Acupuncturist
Master of Science Oriental Medicine
Doctoral Fellow, FBU
Master Martial Arts Instructor

You are in control, you can get well if you are not healthy now and you can stay well if you are! It is in your hands and it is doable! By now most people are tired of hearing about the back and forth rhetoric and discussions that the Senate and Congress are spending so much time and money on. Money that is the taxpayers’. A 1,999 page document has been drafted about this issue and where will it get us and what will it do for the health of the American people? Likely very little.

The causes of greater expenditure needed for health insurance and healthcare are multi factorial. Let’s look at some of these very real root causes. The reality is, that the health of the American people is going downhill. This is not due to a lack of available emergency medicine or a lack of the current allopathic care given to extend and prolong life. It is not due to the lack of insurance companies doing their job. It has much to do with how Americans live and how the practice of everyday nurturing of health and prevention of disease is not taking place. That means, the lack of responsibility for taking care of one’s own life.

The American people like to eat and drink whatever they like, sit around, overwork, underworked, neglect their health and expect nature to overcome all this poor practice and management of their own life. Nature does not work that way and no matter how much more technology is and will be invented, no matter how much more modern medications and tests and surgical procedures will be invented; their health does and will continue to get worse. It costs a lot to take care of broken down automobiles that have been abused; one can put an increasingly amount of money in them and no matter how much money is thrown at them, they still will not be new. So, junk the old cars and replace them with new ones. That is what allopathic medicine has and is trying to do to satisfy the demand of the American people. The American people, who like to do whatever they want and then expect a brand new body when it shows the wear and tear of how they have handled it, are reaping what they have sown.

Good health is at everyone’s own discretion. One can choose to be healthy or not. The foremost requirement is good, clean fuel. Just as poor quality fuel is put into automobiles helps the automobile to break down faster and causes problems, so does poor quality fuel help the human body to break down faster and cause problems. Good, clean fuel is the number one requirement. What is good, clean fuel? A whole-grain based diet and whole, fresh, mostly cooked vegetables (not canned, not frozen, but the real thing), whole, cooked beans, soups, and very little to no meat constitutes the main good-fuel requirements of the human. Drinks should consist of water and black and green teas with NO SUGAR. Processed foodstuffs, instant foods, meat, fried foods, sweet foods and drinks such as soda, are the worst forms of fuel for the human being. They clog up the system, the same way that cheap gasoline with many impurities clog up an automobiles’ mechanical system.

The second requirement is moderate exercise. Mammals are living beings that are meant to move and the human being is no exception. Too much sitting and lying are one of the main culprits of stagnated Qi and blood flow and even lymph flow. The entire system gets clogged just like a sewage system that is left to accumulate in one pool and is not moved. It will then start to disintegrate and rot. Yes, that is what all that undigested food and unused fuel does in the body. That is oxidization; rotting. That is why a person hears so much about antioxidant foods and vitamins these days. People are trying to prevent themselves from rotting. That is primarily done by proper dietary practices to start with, secondarily by moving enough to keep the chemical reactions going in the body. Oriental Medicine calls this moving the Qi (the life-force energy) and the blood. Exercise need not be excessive; three to four times per week for an hour or 15-20 minutes daily. In addition, people who have sedentary jobs should constantly think how they can walk more; go up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, walk to the store, don’t drive; bicycle to the store; don’t drive; get up and help others often; i.e. don’t be afraid to move. People who have a physical job should take an exercise class based on a variety of warm-ups and variety of movement exercise and some aerobic activity. Following the above two main requirements are the best forms of preventive medicine. Secondary prevention is checkups and routine blood tests with allopathic medicine and maintenance checkups with traditional Oriental medicine.

How can TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) or TOM (Traditional Oriental Medicine) help your healthcare costs? If there were people keeping track of the dollars spent through effective cures with this medicine versus surgery, expensive tests such as MRIʼs and x-rays, etc.; it would show great, great dollar savings. TCM or TOM, is indeed, very effective in helping all health conditions before they become very late stage. It can and does turn them around. These costs analyses and effective treatment methods have not been analyzed because convention has it that the pharmaceutical companies and allopathic medicine is main stream. There would be no one from either of these professions that would care to prove that TCM could fulfill a great, great need for the American people. No one in the TCM field has done this because it is a small, growing medicine in this country and the practitioners of TCM are not a wealthy class, they are not given research-dollar funding like pharmaceutical companies and allopathic medicine scientists, and they are busy trying to heal and help people. The practitioners that go into this field take it up because they really want to be healers, and because many of them became sick and tired of what they see taking place in conventional medicine.
Let’s look at one small example of how money, time and pain can be saved by helping yourself and using TCM (aka TOM). Carpal tunnel syndrome: Most people with this condition would not need to go on to expensive surgery if they would try acupuncture first. Indeed, out of seven people with carpal tunnel syndrome it is likely that only one, if that, would need to go on to surgery. How many treatments are likely needed? If it has been long-standing, more than a year; likely twelve treatments, maybe even twenty-four. At a cost of $75.00 per treatment, the patient would spend $900.00 to $1800.00 on acupuncture. After that, of course, the patient may need some maintenance treatments in the future, once a month or once a quarter, or less. What is the cost of the average surgical procedure for carpal tunnel? According to US Government datasets, average total charges per patient for diagnosis related group of carpal tunnel release were $8,185.24. This does not include the hospital stay, the physical therapy afterwards, the prior tests and the costs of medications. Along with that, recovery can take weeks, putting the person out of work until recovery. With acupuncture, there is no recovery period from the surgery. Weeks of pain and weeks of pain medication will likely not be needed.

Let’s take a look at the cost of one insurance premium for a single individual with a private PPO insurance plan that has a $2,500.00 deductible plus a $2,500 out-of-pocket expense for a total maximum out of pocket expense of $5,000.00. This means that you will pay $2,500.00 out of your own pocket first before the insurance company will start paying your medical bill. After that, the insurance plan pays 80% of your medical bill until you meet another $2,500.00 out of your pocket and after that the insurance company pays 100% of your medical bill. So the most you, the insured, would pay for any one major occurrence in the year is $5,000.00. The policy is limited to a lifetime maximum amount of $5,000,000.00. The cost of this policy is $240.00 per month for a single person in the age bracket of 50-60 years old. Many individuals who are looking for every nickel and dime covered, such as HMO plans (although the insurances don’t normally cover every nickel and dime, they usually have a $15.00 co-pay or more), may be paying around $500-$700.00 per month in insurance premiums.
The PPO with the deductible will cost $2,880.00 per year and the other plan will cost $6,000.00 to $8,400.00 per year. If the plan without the deductible were the lower-priced one, subtracting the PPO plan’s cost from the cost of the HMO plan shows that the PPO costs $3,120.00 less per year. Twenty-four acupuncture treatments would cost $1,800.00, if that; many cases are well-healed after twelve treatments or less. You save $1,320.00 and you got treatment! In addition, you could take those dollars saved in insurance premiums and use them for health CARE with acupuncture and Oriental medicine preventive care. Acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal therapy are proven through centuries of experience and real live examples and really work at getting and keeping your body healthy. Isn’t this a lot more fun than surgery and medications? It is also more COST EFFECTIVE.

This is one example of how using holistic health care that addresses the underlying issues and causes of health imbalances and help the body heal can save each individual and the nation as a whole a great deal of money. So, you don’t need insurance to pay for your acupuncture and herbs, you have your own insurance! Furthermore, by people taking their health into their own hands, not only will they be healthier and richer; they will be helping the entire nation save medical costs. If insurance companies could be shown the difference in this cost effective health care system (Oriental medicine), they could save billions of dollars as well. Some food for thought. Contemplate on this; you could make your plan to be healthier and spend less money, too.

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