My grandmother used to say that a tablespoon of Whiskey in a bottle cures colicky babies. My mother always tells me that chamomile tea is the best sleep aid. For many, these old wives tales are passed from generation to generation and are often very helpful. Tried and true home remedies often do the trick for common everyday ailments, but some take the science of alternative medicine to an entirely different level. Unfortunately, many of these alternative therapies are not covered by health insurance policies, so it’s important to understand the risk before taking treatment into your own hands.

Health Insurance And Alternative MedicineEssentially, alternative medicine is any type of therapy or treatment outside of the mainstream medical arena. Various therapies can be used along with mainstream medical treatments, and is referred as Complimentary Medicine. True alternative medicine is used in place of typical medical treatment. These types of treatments may include chiropractic’s, acupuncture, massage, tai chi, yoga or herbal treatments. Some nutritional practices and diets can also be considered a form of alternative medicine.

Why Use Alternative Medicine?

Many people use alternative medicine in conjunction with mainstream medical treatment. Some like to take matters into their own hands and have the “it can’t hurt” attitude, or “it’s worth a try.” Others simply believe that regular medical treatments don’t help, or can cause more harm than good. Still some prefer alternative medicine because it’s cheaper, and mainstream healthcare is simply, “too expensive.”

Paying for Alternative Medicine

However, a growing number of patients are embarking into the world of alternative methods based on recommendations from their doctor. According to National Health Interview Survey, 26% of respondents tried alternative medicine because their regular doctor recommended it. However, even if it comes recommended, doesn’t mean your insurance will cover it. According to the authors of the NHIS, the U.S. public spent an estimated $36 billion alternative or complimentary therapy. Nearly half of this was paid out-of-pocket. While some plans do cover alternative treatments, these plans often require a higher deductible.

To save money while trying an alternative remedy, be sure to ask the practitioner some basic questions before your begin treatment. Be clear about the cost for the first/follow up appointments and how many appointments you’ll need. Ask about additional costs for tests, supplements, etc., and if they offer a payment plan.

Who Uses Alternative Medicine?

According to the National Health Interview Survey, 36 percent of Americans use some form of alternative medicine. The survey found that most Americans turn to alternative medicine for the most common ailments including minor aches and pains, colds, anxiety and sleeping problems. Certain alternative medicine treatments such as chiropractic, acupuncture and massage therapy have seen a significant increase in recent years.

Many times these methods can provide the wanted relief from many of life’s woes. Understanding the costs and processes involved can help you get the relief you need at a cost you can afford.