Reprint of Article from Arizona Capitol Times

Broaden the health care conversation to include alternatives

By Guest Opinion

 

Published: November 29, 2011 at 6:57 am

In Luige del Puerto’s Nov. 4 article discussing the imminent health insurance exchange “Business interests, Brewer push for implementation of health care exchange,” the comment was made that the exchange should be one where individuals can compare and choose plans that are affordable and meet the consumer’s need. This implies that the broader the inclusion of varied, effective approaches to maintaining health, the more affordable and tailored one’s path to health could be.

One of the challenges to having good choices is how inclusive those choices are with respect to the methods of care that Arizona citizens find effective and economic. To the extent those effective methods are not part of the conversation the care offered through the exchange may be inadequate or discriminatory.

Too often the assumption with regard to health care is that all individuals use allopathic or western medical methods to find remedies to their health issues. Limiting the health conversation to those methods alone may be costly and wholly inadequate to meet the public need. Health professionals who practice those methods are skilled and usually very devoted to patient health. They work long hours in a system that has often reached capacity. The techniques involved, whether surgical or pharmaceutical, are costly. The patient may not see the cost, but the insurers do.

So, reliable complementary or alternative approaches that can reduce that cost and ease the ever-increasing demand on allopathic medical professionals are a benefit to the overall health system, including patients, providers and insurers…and, certainly, taxpayers.

In Arizona there are many citizens who utilize other methods of care for maintaining their health. Some are complementary to the more common western medical approach and some are complete alternatives. There is a spectrum of approaches and some of those have very good results in measuring outcomes. For certain, there is an online trend toward exploring and incorporating these approaches on an individual basis.

In a 2011 study done by Pew Internet & American Life Project, 80 percent of Internet users look for health information online. In addition, according to an NIH study, 40 percent of Americans spend $34 billion on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). To leave this out of the discussion regarding Arizona’s health care insurance system is overlooking a helpful and sizeable element of the solution. Including CAM can help relieve stress on the current system and increase patient access to healthy outcomes, lower total costs, and improve efficacy.

In my own experience, I have found that my thoughts affect my health and that a more spiritual outlook has kept me in good health. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the single most common health complement or alternative is prayer. I can attest to that. Let’s keep the conversation broad as Arizona shapes the future regarding the health of its citizens.

— Rich Evans is the spokesman for the Christian Science Committee on Publication for Arizona.

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