Do Naturopathic Doctors Take Insurance?
While it is true that many Naturopathic doctor offices do not accept insurance, the truth is, seeing a Naturopathic doctor is more affordable than you think, and can actually save you money in the long run.
More and more people are making the decision to include preventative and alternative forms of healthcare into their lives, such as naturopathic medical care. In Arizona, Naturopathic Doctors serve as primary care physicians as well as provide adjunct health services such as preventive care, nutritional counseling, and medication-free pain relief including acupuncture.
Although many people are interested in receiving the benefits that come with Naturopathic care, including treating the underlying cause of symptoms, using natural therapies in lieu of medications, and working with a doctor that treats you as a whole person, many worry that a trip to the Naturopathic doctor’s office will be expensive.
Health Model vs. Sick Model
Health insurance is great for times when you need emergency care such as a broken arm or a life-threatening infection. Unfortunately, the way insurance is set up, it is not as useful for utilizing health care services which are patient-centered, and focused on resolving health concerns, not just palliating them. In other words, health insurance is useful in times you are acutely sick and is less useful for managing chronic diseases including diabetes, depression, and digestive issues as well as receiving preventive care for concerns like heart disease. Furthermore, people who wish to achieve optimal wellness, which is so much more than being ‘not sick’, often struggle to find this level of care in insurance-based models.
There are several reasons for this:
Most doctors in the insurance model have a very limited amount to time to spend with each patient – typically 5-15 minutes. This is not enough time to conduct a thorough past and present health assessment, let alone discuss lifestyle factors like diet and exercise. This creates a huge obstacle in understanding the underlying cause of health concerns, as well as ensuring the patient feels heard and understood.
2. Only One Concern at a Time
It is not uncommon for insurance companies to restrict the number of health concerns that can be addressed at each visit with the doctor. This means that if you are experiencing anxiety, high stress, irritable bowel syndrome, and painful periods, you may not have the opportunity to discuss all of your symptoms with your doctor at the same visit – even if the health concerns are related, such as in this case. This prevents a whole-person approach to health, and encourages treating symptoms, not the underlying cause. In this case, the anxiety and high levels of stress are likely one of the main causes of the digestive and hormonal imbalances. Unfortunately this patient would likely walk out with a anti-anxiety drug like Xanax, an anti-depressant like Lexapro, and birth control pills to manage her symptoms. This creates a perfect storm for short term suppression of symptoms with long-term health repercussions.
3. Dictating Care
In many cases, insurance dictates treatment options. This means, that despite what the doctor may think is the best course of therapy for your health concern, insurance will only cover certain treatment approaches. An example of this is chronic back pain. Although there is an abundance of research supporting the efficacy of acupuncture in alleviating back pain, a person’s insurance may not cover this as an approved form of treatment for back pain. It may cover medications like muscle relaxers, opioids, and perhaps a cortisone injection, none of which resolve the pain pain long term, and all have side effects including addiction and joint degeneration. This means, that the options for treatment are limited based on what a particular insurance company decides they will pay for.
Benefits of Naturopathic Care
Significantly more time with the doctor
Solutions aimed at resolving the root cause of health issues
Be treated as a whole-person
Shared decision making in your health
Gain an understanding of how your body works
Improved quality of life
Naturopathic Care Can Save You Money
There is a saying that goes – if you don’t invest in your health, you will have to invest in your illness. Naturopathic care is geared at helping you improve your physical, mental, and emotional health and reduce your need for medications and increase your quality of life.
The healthier you are, the fewer sick days you will take at work which in turn can improve your work efficiency. The better you feel, the less time and money you will spend at various doctors visits.
Medications can be costly, even with insurance. Naturopathic Doctors are fully trained in pharmacology and can potentially help you eliminate the need for some medications, as well as assist in reducing medications side effects.
It is important to keep in mind that if you were to pay for your office visits at your conventional doctor’s out of pocket, you would be spending a similar mouth of money, but receiving 5-10 minutes of face to face time with the doctor. The amount of individual time and attention you get from your Naturopathic Doctor is incomparable what you would receive at a conventional doctor’s office.
Naturopathic doctors commonly order both standard and specialty labs which include food allergy panels, advanced hormone testing, organic acid testing, and comprehensive stool analysis. In most cases, routine laboratory work is covered by insurance. Some insurance companies offer coverage for specialty labs, or offer a partial reimbursement. We recommend that you call your provider in advance to see what your options are.
Paying for Your Naturopathic Visits
At Onyx Integrative Medicine, our Naturopathic Doctors focus on open communication about all aspects of your care, including your budget, We understand that each person has a different financial situation and work with people within their individual means. Many people are choosing high deducible, emergency insurance options, leaving a budget for preventive care like Naturopathic Medicine. We accept cash and all major credit cards as well as Health Saving Account cards. In some cases, reimbursements from your insurance company are available.
Health Savings Accounts
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is available to taxpayers in the United States who have a high deducible health insurance plan. The funds in a HSA are tax free and roll over and accumulate year to year if they are not used. Essentially, a HSA is tax-free money to spend on your health and wellness where and how you choose to do so. The good news is, you can pay for your Naturopathic doctor visits with your HSA.
Some insurance companies do offer reimbursement for Naturopathic medical care. Each plan is different, so it is advised that you call your insurance company before your appointment with your Naturopathic Doctor to find out if they offer any level of reimbursement as well as any other pertinent details. Ask your Naturopathic Doctor for a copy of the ‘superbill’ which will have all the information the insurance compare requires for reimbursement.
Insurance companies including Cigna, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Lumenos, and United Health Care often have the option of naturopathic reimbursement.
Questions to ask your insurance include:
Does my current policy cover Naturopathic physical services?
If so, are Naturopathic physicians considered an out-of-network provider?
Do you require anything other than a superbill to process the reimbursement?
What is my deductible?
Are services such as acupuncture, preventative medicine, and nutritional counseling covered as an out-of-network provider?
If not, are there alternate policies that do offer Naturopathic services?
Discuss your budget up front with your doctor.
The Naturopathic Doctor’s job is to provide you with the best recommendations for your health. They do however understand that every person has a different financial situation, and if needed, can help you prioritize lab tests, supplements and other procedures. Being open and honest about what you can afford can help you and your Naturopathic Doctor come up with effective solutions while respecting your budget.
The more you put in, the more you will get out.
Naturopathic doctors work with you to develop strategies to achieve your health and wellness goals. While your Naturopathic Doctor will develop your treatment plan and and guide you, the majority of the work and healing is done by you between visits. Nutrition and lifestyle changes are the foundation to Naturopathic care and in the majority of cases, changing the way you eat can make a huge impact on your health and wellness. The good news is, typically, making dietary changes and lifestyle changes such as beginning to exercise and meditate can be achieved with little to no cost to you. Ensuring you are a s compliant and devoted to making these changes as possible, will help you see results quicker and could reduce the need for supplements and other procedures.