Many complementary therapies remain inaccessible to low-income people. Traditional methods may be affordable within specific ethnic communities but can be expensive when provided to, or by, outsiders to those communities. Complementary therapies are not always covered by insurance, though some insurance companies cover a limited number of complementary treatments or offer discounts on treatments with selected providers. While insurance companies should cover complementary medicine, insurance is not a panacea. Many women are uninsured or have limited access to health care facilities. Also, insurance is designed to pay for treatment when we are ill, while complementary care emphasizes staying healthy.
Conventional Western medicine will have to change before it can integrate complementary and alternative medicine. This may not happen until the profit motive is removed from health care services. For example, herbs and dietary supplements are not patentable and cannot be as profitable as drugs. Effective botanical treatments and mind-body therapies are unlikely to be prescribed as long as pharmaceutical companies sponsor the continuing education of most doctors. Complementary therapies may best be utilized within a single-payer health care system, which could emphasize preventive care and a broad range of cost-effective therapies. We can promote such changes by writing to our legislators, joining organizations, and educating others and ourselves. As deeper research defines which holistic practices are effective, we will be able to advocate their widespread availability.
Find out more about this book:Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era