vs right to choose
2016 marked the end of plentiful PPOs from which a US healthcare consumer could choose. Instead, insurance companies are now mostly offering HMOs. This has substantially limited consumer choices in healthcare providers to an ever-narrower subset, chosen by insurers.
Having to give up one’s PCP when insurance plans change is not something that the American consumer ever agreed to allow. In fact, President Obama assured the public on rolling out the ACA that we could choose and keep our doctors. Now caught between ACA goals and insurers’ cutbacks, the consumer is stuck with what the insurers are willing to offer.
Naturopathic medical schools in North America, accredited by the US Department of Education, as are conventional medical schools, exist to train primary care physicians who practice to all standards of conventional medicine, while also in accordance with naturopathic principles, such as finding the root cause of disease, treating the whole person, and making use of the healing power of nature.
Despite naturopathic medical training at 4-year medical schools in primary care medicine, in patient care from gestation through the senior years, HMOs have still not included naturopathic physicians. Neither do Medicare or Medicaid.
Countless times people call naturopathic physician offices and ask: “Do you take my insurance?” Or “Do you take Medicare.”
The doctor’s staff has to answer: “We don’t reject Medicare; Medicare does not accept us.” Ditto HMOs.
Many PPOs reimburse partially for naturopathic care, but with few of them now, consumers are finding their healthcare choices ignored and spurned by their insurers.
At some tipping point in the future, the healthcare consumer will have to assert:
“I have chosen a naturopathic physician as my PCP, which is inherently my choice. If ___ insurance company does not honor my choice, then it is not worthy of being my insurance company.”
Consumer spending stays roughly around 70% of GDP, through good and bad years. Historically, it is consumer pressure and consumer demand that ultimately bring better quality products to market. Shouldn’t we have insurers that honor the choices of those of us paying the premiums?