Your Guide to Health Insurance and Alternative Medicine


Finding and obtaining a health insurance policy that fits your needs can feel like a huge chore. With the time it takes to sift through information about plans and compare them, it can feel like it just isn’t worth the effort when you don’t end up using your benefits.

People who recognize that modern medicine isn’t always the right choice of action for their bodies have a tough time when it comes to insurance companies. However, you can find a policy that fits your needs while still adhering to your wellness plan.

So how can we navigate health insurance when it comes to alternative medicine?

Alternative Medicine Costs Less, but You Pay More

More and more, people are turning away from conventional healthcare providers that use pharmaceutical drugs and instead utilizing alternative medicine. Alternative medicine is a broad term that could include chiropractic care, herbal remedies, naturopathy, massage, and even supplements.

Integrative medicine is the term used when a patient chooses to use alternative medicine in combination with traditional medicine, in which case some of the costs may be covered by their insurance company.

For those seeking alternative treatments—which has grown into a mass of people spending billions of dollars every year—there’s often little luck when it comes to getting insurance providers to pay for these therapies. This is surprising considering that alternative medicine often costs significantly less than traditional medicine, yet patients are forced to pay this cost out of pocket.

Knowing the extent of your insurance coverage can keep you prepared in the event that you want to utilize alternative remedies under your current insurance plan, or when considering a new plan. It can feel tedious to research plans—but your efforts can be well worth it.

What to Ask Your Insurance Company

Here are four questions to ask your insurance representative about your policy if you’re into alternative medicine.

  1. What Forms of Treatment Are Considered to Be ‘Alternative’?

It seems a bit ludicrous to think that ancient practices like herbal medicine and acupuncture are considered “alternative” nowadays, but this is, in fact, the case. This means that natural preventative measures you take to avoid disease and sickness can cost you more than toxic pharmaceuticals.

It’s your job to find out which forms of treatment are considered to fall under the category of alternative medicine and which do not. Asking this simple question can help clarify which treatments are covered under the policy and which will not be covered or be only partially covered.

  1. Does This Policy Cover All of My Healthcare Needs?

If you’re looking at a specific policy, consider what your healthcare needs are and whether or not they’re covered.

Do you visit the chiropractor regularly for adjustments? What about massage? Herbal therapy? You need to find out whether these things will be covered under your plan. If they are, you need to find out if they need to be ordered by a physician or “preapproved” before the company will grant you full or partial coverage.

Knowing the extent of your coverage can help you choose the best plan for your needs. If the treatments you receive are covered, the next step is to find out just how much of them will be covered under that policy.

  1. What Are the Limits for Costs of Alternative Medicine?

Even if your treatments are covered, there is likely a limit on the cost they will cover. Talk with your insurance representative about specifics when it comes to the costs for your alternative medicine. There might be only a few allowed visits and limits on what they’ll pay—for instance, 10 chiropractic visits per year and then you’re done. Ask what you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for needed services.

Ask your provider if getting a prescription for these services will help secure you coverage. In any case, it’s crucial to always keep your receipt for services in the event that it’s needed for reimbursement. If there are limits on cost, this means your benefits from this plan will only go as far as the number they give you. 

  1. Do My Practitioners Need to Be in Network?

Some insurance companies require that your healthcare practitioner be in their network in order for them to cover the cost. Talk with your insurance company about their policy regarding this. It’s helpful to check if your doctors or other healthcare providers are going to be able to continue giving you covered services under your future healthcare plan.

It’s also a good idea to ask if there’s any coverage for your services if you go out-of-network.

Other Things You Can Do

Although insurance companies aren’t allowed to discriminate against different procedures or providers, this doesn’t mean that they have to provide coverage.

You shouldn’t forgo health insurance just because you don’t see a traditional doctor or get standard tests done every year. Anyone can experience an accident that could lead to a hefty hospital bill. In cases like these, preventative measures do little to help us avoid the costs.

Navigating the insurance world can be confusing and scary, especially for those of us who value and utilize alternative therapies to better care for our bodies. Choosing an insurance plan that best fits our needs can help minimize out-of-pocket costs and help us feel better about having health insurance.

By asking questions and being knowledgeable about the plans available to you, you can make the best decision for you and your family in regards to health insurance and alternative medicine!

Jenn Ryan
Jenn Ryan is a freelance writer and editor who's passionate about natural health, gluten-free, fitness, and animals. Jenn loves running, reading, and playing with her four rescued rabbits.