About a third of Americans use some form of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM), according to the National Institutes of Health — whether it’s seeing an acupuncturist or naturopath, taking fish oil or probiotics as a preventative measure, or relying on bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, or cannabis for managing pain.
But those numbers could be even higher if CAMs were consistently covered by insurance, said natural-medicine advocate Suzanne Somers — who is a remarkably ageless-looking 70 — in a Facebook post on Thursday.
“Whenever I post about alternative or integrative medicine I get a huge number of responses from many of you who say you simply can’t afford it,” wrote Somers, the actress best known for roles on TV shows “Step by Step” and “Three’s Company,” and who has since become a natural health author (of 27 books!) and entrepreneur. “It pains me that this type of medicine is not available for everyone, and I have promised to use my voice to help create change.”
Her post, which included a Fox Business segment with Neil Cavuto in which she discusses her efforts to get natural medicine included in the Trump administration’s insurance plan, has sparked a robust debate, receiving more than 3,500 reactions and 400 shares.
“That would be so wonderful — I spent a great deal on an integrative doc who helped me and none of it was covered,” one Facebook user shared. “My health plan doc told me to eat less, exercise more and cut salt — what a joke. I am now 55 pounds thinner and feeling alive for the first time in 10 years all with the help of my integrative medics doc. Worth every penny but I have a $25,000 medical insurance policy that wouldn’t cover this!!!!! Very sad.”
To that, Somers replied, “Agree — but wow, bravo to you! And ironically you have saved your insurance company so much money on your future healthcare bills! If only they would understand the concept of prevention!”
Another supporter said, “We need insurance companies to cover this…we pay for it, shouldn’t we decide who our doctors should be and the type of treatment we want?”
Still others expressed frustration about a desire to use, but a lack of resources to pay for, alternative treatments for conditions that incude Lyme disease, cancer, thyroid disease, high blood pressure, and menopause.
“I remember asking one of the doctors I interviewed [for an early book], ‘How did it get like this?’” Somers recalled to Cavuto, referring to the Western, allopathic approach to medicine being the norm — and he told her about the legacy of medicine reformer Abraham Flexner, hired by the Carnegies and the Rockefellers “to go to the institutes of higher learning and offer funding in perpetuity if they would teach allopathic medicine only — meaning here’s the symptom, here’s the drug for that symptom. Now it’s an incredible business model for two people who own pharmaceutical companies. But that’s when all the ‘pathics’ got put to the side as wacky — naturopathic, chiropractic, homeopathic.”
While Somers said she takes “no pharmaceuticals,” she did add, “I’m not antipharmaceutical; when you need them, you need them, and they’re a godsend.”
Cavuto pressed her point, noting that past viewers have been piqued by what sounded like Somers suggesting that everyone should stop taking their medications.
“No,” Somers replied. “I’m offering another option. For me, with my [breast] cancer, I went natural. That was 20 years ago; I’m still here. … My oncologist said to me, ‘You’re going to die,’ and I said, ‘I have to follow my gut, and I feel I’ll die if I do what you say.’”
Somers explained that she would like to have a sit-down with new Health Secretary Tom Price, “to make provisions for those of us — and there are thousands and thousands of us — who want to take the natural option and have that covered by insurance,” she said. “Women come up to me and say, ‘Well, I’m glad you feel good on those bioidentical hormones, but I can’t afford them because my insurance won’t pay for them.”
She added, cheekily, “You’d have more happy women in this country if they were all as hormonally balanced as I am. Every day is a good one.”
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