On January 31, 2006, the Minnesota Health Care Solutions Series joint committee meetings met at the state capitol to discuss cost containment for health care in the state of Minnesota. Those senators and representatives who actually attended and stayed for the entire session received a great education. Those testifying included practitioners of naturopathy, homeopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture. Western medical doctors also were present, however most of them did not stay to hear the Complementary and Alternative Medicine practitioners.

The underlying theme in each of these presentations was whether the particular modality works and if its cost is significantly lower than Western medicine.

A study by Jennifer Jacobs, M.D., and Mark Chapman, M.D., published in the Archives of Family Medicine in 1998, reported that physicians who practice homeopathy spend more time with their patients, ordered fewer tests and prescribed fewer Western medicine drugs. This study complements data found in a French study, which found that homeopathic care costs 15 percent less than conventional medicine. A 1996 French report on prescription costs noted that patients under the care of homeopathic physicians took 3.5 times fewer sick days than those under the care of conventional physicians.

These studies and reports were conducted and written before the recent double-digit increase in the cost of health care. A retrospective study published in Alternative Therapies in 2002 showed a 54 percent drop in three-month medication costs for an atopic allergy condition after the introduction of classical homeopathy treatment. Think of the savings over years, instead of months.

Legislators and insurance companies can look at "Best Practices" medicine, arrange to have nurses calling chronically ill patients on a regular basis, enable residents to buy drugs in Canada, etc., but the only true way to lower health care costs is with a dramatic paradigm shift. Rather than having western medicine be the first line of defense against illness, it needs to be reserved as a last resort.

The U.S. Government recently created health savings accounts, which allows employees to carry their funds with them from job to job without losing any health-care benefits. It is generally agreed that the trend in the future will be health-care plans with large deductibles and health savings accounts, where employees will be responsible for the first $2,000 or more of their medical care.

Complementary and alternative therapies are the best use of the money in the health savings account. Most natural therapies cannot be patented, therefore the cost is lower. But more importantly, they work. Western medicine works to suppress disease symptoms, often causing new disease to present itself. The cycle of dependence on drugs begins. Most complementary and alternative therapies, on the other hand, get to the root of the problem and encourage the body to heal itself, thereby lessening the need for frequent care and conventional drugs.

Healing symptoms means that you don’t have to rely on prescription drugs the rest of your life. Dollar for dollar, remedies are less expensive than drugs, and visits with a practitioner cost less than a physician; the body can actually heal the "dis-ease" in the body, so care by the practitioner becomes infrequent rather than regular. Every practitioner of a complementary or alternative modality has dozens of stories of clients who spent countless hours and thousands of insurance dollars on conventional medicine, only to have their problem taken care of quickly and easily with an alternative therapy at a fraction of the cost.

Health savings accounts will reveal to patients just how expensive conventional medicine is. Part of the problem now is that people don’t realize how much everything costs. If we didn’t know how much groceries cost, most people would be eating steak and salmon and lobster. But because we do know how much it costs, we eat chicken and turkey, and only occasionally some steak, salmon or lobster. Once people begin to realize just how much conventional medicine costs, more people will naturally begin to choose one or more of the non-traditional healing modalities as their first choice, and the cost of conventional medicine will drop because consumers will demand it.

Contact your state senator and representative. Ask to meet with them to discuss a paradigm shift in medical care to help save money and jobs and keep Minnesota more competitive with other states and nations. Show them this article and others that are available online, and show them your receipts. Tell them your story of healing through an alternative therapy. If you haven’t used a complementary therapy, investigate them. See which ones hold the truth for you. The future in health care and healing holds much promise in complementary and alternative modalities.

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Kathryn Z. Berg has been practicing classical homeopathy for 4 years, and has been passionate about it for over a decade. She has her own private practice, Lotus Homeopathy, which is located at the Vibrant Life Center in Oakdale, Minn. She can be reached at kzberg@lotushomeopathy.com or (651) 748-1556.

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