Just What is Holistic Medicine?

A Valid Alternative Medical Approach not Always Covered by Healthcare Insurance

Copyright © all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile Posted Aug 31, 2011

Vitamin supplements are important for good health; photo courtesy Kelly Smith


Holistic medicine, also associated with natural (no pharmaceuticals) or alternative medicine, has largely gotten a bad rap in society. For some, it carries a stigma as if it were some kind of voodoo practice.

Not so; the American Holistic Medical Association states, “Holistic medicine is the art and science of healing that addresses care of the whole person — body, mind, and spirit. The practice of holistic medicine integrates conventional and complementary therapies to promote optimal health, and prevent and treat disease by addressing contributing factors.”

That puts it in a more benign light, doesn’t it? The job of the holistic practitioner is to present the patient with a broad range of treatments rather than simply focusing on the complaint and prescribing drugs. It turns out they aren’t really shamans or witch doctors.

Principles of Alternative Medicine

Other than the tenant of treating the whole person, perhaps the next most important principal is the pursuit of optimal health. Of course, in reality the level is individual, but the important point here is that there is focus on preventative medicine, something lacking in what your typical primary care provider offers.

The idea is to keep things in balance rather than waiting for something to break.

Healing from within is also an important concept. Practitioners stress that all people have an innate ability to heal or at least contribute to the healing process. Even many traditional doctors now believe that things such as humor, a positive outlook, and prayer are effective in stopping or reversing physical ailments.

Acupuncture is a popular Chinese medical treatment; photo courtesy Kyle Hunter Going hand in hand with innate abilities is the understanding that there are many healing tools to choose from, and each individual case warrants its own unique blend.

For example, in addition to prescription and over-the-counter medications, alternative approaches such as chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy, and meditation might be added to the mix. Almost anything that will help for a cumulative effect may be welcome.

Will Healthcare Insurance Cover a Holistic Physician’s Services?

This is where the rubber meets the road for many people, especially in these tight economic times, especially when so many people have lost insurance coverage along with their jobs. The answer is that it all depends. Most HMO policies will not accept natural medicine practitioners. On the other hand, POS and PPO insurance plans tend to be a bit more forgiving.

Why the avoidance? For the most part, it goes back to wanting to dispense drugs after the fact rather than indulge in preventive maintenance. Now, are these treatments tax deductible? The good news is that some treatments are deductible.

The bad news is that the minimum spending threshold is so high that it is unlikely that you will qualify unless your medical bills are astronomical.

So should you go with the holistic approach? That is largely an individual decision. If you are the type of person that would like to have a partnership type of relationship with your medical professional and are willing to try more or less non-traditional methods of treatment, then this might be something to try.

On the other hand, if you feel more comfortable with putting all your trust in a conventional doctor, then maybe not.

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  • www.irs.gov/publications/p502/ar02.html#en_US_publink1000179059
  • www.holisticmedicine.org/
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