Friday, April 16, 2010

Health Is For the Rich

The confluence of the newly passed health care reform bill and my recent visit to a naturopathic doctor got me thinking:  there needs to be a middle ground between Western medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, Eastern medicine, and everything else.

I am fortunate that my ND is considered a specialist by my health insurance.  That means that I only pay $30 for an office visit instead of the full cost (I don't know what she charges).  What is not covered by insurance are the many non-standard laboratory tests for food allergies and neurotransmitters, as well as the myriad supplements that are strongly recommended.  Herein lies the rub.

At my visit, I learned that I have candidiasis (a yeast infection in my digestive tract), and have several vitamin and mineral deficiencies.  The doctor recommended supplements designed to restore balance and improve my general health.  Some of the supplements are not available in local health food stores but the doctor sells from her office, so I purchased them during my visit.  Including my copay, I spent $90.

Today, I went to the nearest health food store to buy the remaining supplements as well as some snacks that I could enjoy while on an anti-candida diet.  One bottle of 150 multivitamins, one bottle of 60 refrigerated probiotic caplets, and one bottle of 60 Vitamin D gelcaps cost about $80.  I also purchased some snacks - two small bags of corn nuts, one bag of spelt sticks (I know...), one small bag of plaintain chips, and a tub of dried vegetable chips each cost $6.00.  Yes, you read correctly:  six dollars each for five snack items.

I believe that there is a place for naturopathy, homeopathy, and other alternative routes to healing.  But as the mother of three small children, spending one hundred dollars a month on supplements, in addition to purchasing organic meats and dairy products, gets cost prohibitive.  So what is the balance?  Where is the happy medium?  Where do we begin to fix the system? 

And what is the system?  Is it simply health care and all that it encompasses - supplements, prescription drugs, tinctures, herbs - or do we truly need to think global and fix everything from our food supply to the environment?  (that would be ideal, of course, but rather unlikely)

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