A debate over healthcare is currently raging in Washington. Health professionals are rightly being consulted. President Obama recently spoke to the American Medical Association about it. The AMA has plenty to say about how healthcare should be structured. What do non-physician health practitioners have to say? In particular, how would practitioners of Alternative Medicine advise the President?
(One month ago today I asked Homeopaths and Naturopaths to help protect consumers from less-scrupulous folks hawking "remedies" that don't work. How, I asked, can consumers avoid being taken in by snake-oil salesmen? I got very little uptake. I'm hoping my next plea will be more successful.)
So, my question: Which "alternative" health services ought to be covered by insurance plans (private ones, or public ones like Medicare), and which ones should not? Presumably all practitioners of alternative medicine would agree with this: some alternative or "natural" therapies probably work, and some probably don't. How can insurers (public and private) tell the difference? Presumably Homeopaths believe Homeopathy should be covered, and Chiropractors think Chiropractic should be covered, and so on. That's understandable. But what other services do Homeopaths and Chiropractors think should or shouldn't be covered?
In fact, to foster discussion, let's stipulate (even if only for sake of argument) that Chiropractic, Homeopathy, and Naturopathy should be covered. I don't want to get dragged into current debates over those. I want practitioners of those disciplines to be able to help with my question, without having to debate the merits of their own fields.
This is a serious matter. If insurance companies cover things they shouldn't, they'll end up having to reduce coverage on things that truly help people. And if public insurers like Medicare cover things they shouldn't — well, we all know the kinds of financial difficulties governments are facing these days. Every dollar spent on ineffectual healthcare is a dollar not spent on education, etc etc.
So, to the practitioners of alternative medicine out there: Help! It's your patriotic duty!