We discussed on "Whole Living" how the New York Times reported recently that while more and more people are seeking out acupuncture to address everything from chronic pain and infertility to depression and anxiety, insurance companies still won't pony up the cash.
Of course, I find this maddening.
Not only because I work for Whole Living (the radio show and the magazine), but because it seems, by comparison, a small price to pay to prevent the kinds of problems that, well, cost insurers and employers much more in the long run.
Acupuncture, ain't cheap (average may be around $70 while some pay upwards of $100 or more per session, with cheaper group options available). But again, this brings us back to the issue of pay now, or pay later.
This tool, one of many used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is hardly woo-woo anymore. In fact, we reported in a story in Whole Living that research bears out that acupuncture is a viable treatment option for those suffering back pain: A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that acupuncture might banish back pain nearly twice as effectively as conventional medicine.
Should you stop taking meds and stop going to the doctor and just do acupuncture? No one's saying that. However, that's why integrative medicine is so appealing and so much more modern than the whole thumb-your-nose-at-modern-Western-med movement. We can and should seek out several different therapies, because no single approach is often a cure.
Our bodies are complicated, layered, connected, and yes, mysterious things, and respond in different ways to different treatments. And yet, why insurers would rather wait, contributing nothing to the ongoing care and prevention of bigger problems, and instead have to shell out the money to cover expensive surgeries is beyond me.
When will insurers catch up? It's craziness to think that if they covered complementary treatments like therapeutic massage, acupuncture, network spinal chiropractic, they'd go broke. I think they'd probably save money. Plus, people wouldn't get to the point where they're missing work and needing umpteen weeks off to rehab from said surgeries.
I also think it's on us to invest where possible and where we can in our own health--NOW, not when we're crippled with pain or completely unable to function or worse.
Until insurers wake up and step up, we have to take matters into our own hands. There are acupuncturists who do group sessions, where you can pay around $15 to share a (fully clothed) session with other people--and while you may not get the practitioner's full hour's worth of attention, you still receive the benefits of an age-old practice which may help you in more ways than one.
Host, Whole Living & senior editor at Whole Living magazine
on Twitter @TerriT