Ever since health insurance became mandatory in the United States, complementary and alternative medicine practitioners may have experienced a reduction in popularity because health insurance does not cover most holistic therapies. It costs $25 to visit a family physician for patients with good health insurance plans, versus over $100 for a visit with a naturopath, chiropractor, or other holistic health practitioners. Medication with insurance also has a manageable price whereas some professional quality wellness supplements run between $20 up to $200 and above. Consequently, going to the alternative doctor may feel like a luxury, an unnecessary expense or last resort when the “regular” medicine failed.
However, things become very different when you get really sick. Average annual cost of treating diabetes is around $13,000, of these $7,000 is cost directly associated with treatments for which the insurance may pay 80% and you pay $1,400 out of pocket, plus your deductible ($1,500-10,000). The other $6,000 are expenses related to diabetes not covered by insurance. If you have complications the price of course only goes up from there.
Things get really hairy when you go into heart attack, stroke, and finally cancer category. For patients with heart attack the annual out of pocket cost runs around $8,000. Any surgeries needed on top of that cost around $35,000-52,000, of which the out of pocket charge may be $7,000-10,000. The cost of stroke is $15,000-35,000, with lifetime stroke treatment costs over $140,000.
The annual cost of cancer management is $50,000-200,000 per case. This includes all necessary procedures: surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. This does not include the cost of missed work days, any child care needed during treatment, transportation, meals, and other expenses. The out of pocket 20% of care that the insurance may require you to pay is $10,000-40,000, plus the deductible and the monthly payments.
Heart attacks and cancer are the leading causes of death. One in two males and one in three females develop some type of cancer throughout his or her life. By contrast, the person with the most risk factors for cardiovascular disease has one in five chances to develop coronary artery disease. However, heart attacks have a much lower survival rate than cancer, and this is why even though the statistics for acquiring heart disease is much lower than for cancer, heart disease has a higher death toll overall than cancer.
I should admit these statistics look pretty grim. Most of these unfortunate infirmities happen after the age of 60, when most people get ready for retirement. Retirement thus becomes a never ending battle with medical bills, pain, constant medical appointments, and it becomes a full time job in itself just to manage your disease. Most people, when they think of retirement, plan to spend their days in leisure, playing golf all day with their buddies, traveling the world, playing with grand kids, reviving hobbies that they abandoned because they were too busy during their pre-retirement years. However, this remains but a dream for the overwhelming majority.
Other diseases such as various forms of arthritis, thyroid, autoimmune, cardiovascular, hormonal disorders prevent retired and increasingly younger people from fully living their lives. Constant pain and limited physical mobility does not let you fulfill your retirement dreams. In addition, medical bills put a dent on your finances, savings and retirement funds, and you are left with very little extra for any kind of leisure.
For those who were wise enough to go to the alternative doctor, on the other hand, the out of pocket cost cannot even compare to the medical bills charged by hospitals, medical doctors, and pharmacies. Holistic medicine is more expensive up front for relatively healthy people, but people tend to forget that it is vastly preventive in nature, in contrast to the conventional medicine that is treatment-oriented. Holistic medicine helps the body heal from within so that we have a much lower chance to develop these terrible and terribly costly diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune conditions, and most other chronic diseases.
If you look at health as an investment, you will see how you can avoid huge medical costs in the future if you start a prevention plan right now. Even if you are already suffering from a major chronic disease you can lower your medical costs by simply eliminating sugar from your diet, or, even better, getting on a detox diet for a couple of months. Buying a bottle of herbal tincture runs around $9-15 that can last you a couple of weeks to a month. Compare that to the cost of diabetes drugs, for example. I’m not even talking about chemotherapy drugs ($10,000 anyone?).
Holistic medicine ideally should not just be limited to taking an herb every day. Holistic medicine practitioners’ goal is to change your lifestyle to a health-oriented one. Of course, an herb is a great start, but it may not be enough to reduce future medical bills significantly. Every new healthful step you implement cuts down future medical costs.
Certainly, I cannot even describe the value of tip top health at the age of 65. There are so many possibilities, that for some that time may actually feel like their life has just begun! That is the best age for personal growth, for traveling to other countries, learning various worldviews, reading inspiring literature, or becoming an inspiring person. The most important thing is that you don’t have to work anymore!
A healthy lifestyle that supports self healing is the only path to complete health today and to personal and financial freedom at any age. Of course, life happens to all of us, and it may not be all that easy when you get older. But at least disease would not be one of the issues you have to deal with! And, as a bonus, you’ll get to keep all that money you collected over your lifetime and not fatten up a pharmaceutical giant.