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With our crumbling health care system, rising cost of healthcare, prescription drugs rapidly increasing each year, is it worth it to look into Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Better Health, Is it worth it to look to CAM for help? 

By Karen Langston

When it comes to our health, we really do not put much thought into it until we become sick and enter into the medical nightmare paradigm. As a transplanted Canadian, this is something I did not have to worry about. I moved to Phoenix and had my first surgery. I was terrified. I was worried about what it was going to cost, how were we going to be able to afford it, and what if my surgery was rejected by the insurance company. What then? My nightmare came true. 

Financials of Healthcare

I used to suffer with Crohn’s disease and spent a lifetime in and out of the hospital. It was the 2008 surgery which opened my eyes to the financial side of American healthcare. Although I had the tools to heal myself, the mounting medical bills gave me the kick in the bum I needed to finally take control of my own health care. I had a decision to make; do I want to keep paying thousands of dollars on co-pays, medical costs, procedures, prescriptions and be sick the rest of my life, or spend a fraction of this money on getting well? 

I took what I had learned over the years as a holistic nutritionist, and a year later, after a colonoscopy and pathology, my final diagnosis was “no evidence of Crohn’s disease.” This meant no more surgeries, no more co-pays, and no more doctor visits and costly medications. I truly felt I could start living again.

Rising Cost of Healthcare

With our crumbling health care system, rising cost of healthcare, prescription drugs rapidly increasing each year, is it worth it to look into complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)? I believe more people are becoming disillusioned with the medical profession’s ability to provide quality of life and are unhappy with the rising insurance premiums and mounting medical bills, with no return on investment; a healthier life. 

According to a 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF)/Los Angeles Times survey, results of people with employer-sponsored insurance found 1 in 5 people had been contacted by collection agencies, while 9% of those surveyed had declared personal bankruptcy due to medical expenses. Tal Gross and Matthew Notowidigbo 2011 study found out-of-pocket medical costs influenced 26% of bankruptcies in low-income households.

Health Expenditures

According to a 2007 NHIS survey, 83 million U.S. adults spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket on visits to CAM practitioners and purchases of CAM products, classes and materials. In total, there were approximately 354 million visits to CAM practitioners and approximately 835 million purchases. Compare this to the U.S. Health Expenditures 2007, National Health Spending Explorer: Americans spent $457.5 billion for conventional medical trips to Physicians & Clinics and $234.9 billion on prescription drugs, for a combined total national health expenditure of $2,294.

According to a 2013 Natural Medicine Journal report, although there is an increase in the coverage of various CAM providers including naturopathic physicians, acupuncturists, massage therapists and chiropractors, there is still concern about the cost-effectiveness of both conventional and CAM health care. CAM is cost-effective, presenting cost savings due to inexpensive treatments, lower technology interventions, and its emphasis on preventative medicine. The key takeaway here is preventative health—meaning, let’s do something before it becomes a problem. 

Is It Worth It?

The real question, is it worth it? As you can clearly see, there is more being spent on medical procedures and prescriptions than on CAM. Research is lacking on the cure rate between conventional medicine and CAM. This is where we have to turn to those who have had success with integrative and alternative methods when conventional medicine has failed them. 

What I can tell you from my own experience is that I no longer suffer with the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. For the last 10 years, there have been no doctor visits, co-pays, procedures, surgeries, medications or insurance claims. If the typical non-elderly family in the United States spends $8,200 per year on direct spending on healthcare (less surgeries and procedures), then I have saved $82,000 over the last 10 years. 

After working in CAM centers in different countries, I have witnessed those who were suffering from different types of illnesses or cancers suffering in angst and living a miserable existence with no hope in sight, turn their illness around, reverse their symptoms, and leave with a new hope for longevity. Was it worth it? 

CAM Practitioner

Turning to a CAM practitioner, the goal is to restore the body’s natural circadian rhythm and balance the chemistry. This naturally results in reversal of symptoms and most diagnoses, no longer needing most of the medications they are on. This, in turn, results in better quality of life, more energy and a renewed sense of hope. This is what preventative medicine is all about—restoring one’s ability to feel they can live a healthier life, and be drug- and symptom-free. 

Is it worth it? Living without pain and suffering, constant trips to the doctor’s office, mounting toxic prescriptions, and medical bills with no end in sight? What do you think?

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Karen Langston is a certified holistic nutritionist working with clients and professionals on how to have three healthy poops a day. Poop well, be well. www.healthygutadvisor.com  

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