Medicare Does Not Allow for Health Care Freedom
Medicare Does Not Allow for Health Care Freedom – Argument Essay
Pharmaceutical drugs kill over 106,000 Americans in hospitals each year. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs seriously injure another 2.1 million Americans each year. Adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs are the fourth largest cause of death in the United States according to research by the University of Toronto (Pomeranz 280). Furthermore, up to 98,000 Americans are killed by mistakes made by medical professionals every year (O’Connor). Because of statistics like these, the Health Freedom Movement is growing in popularity. Health freedom is basically the right to choose the type of health care as well as the health care provider. Naturopathic medicine is the main component desired by this movement
Naturopathic Doctors (N.D.s) are physicians who are licensed to prescribe pharmaceutical medicines and perform minor surgeries; furthermore, they also specialize in more natural healing and the following therapies: clinical nutrition, phytotherapy (herbal medicine), homeopathy, physical medicine, acupuncture, and much more. They are also graduates from an accredited four-year, post-graduate, natural medical school as well as a two-year internship. Currently naturopaths are licensed in fourteen states including Arizona. Several more states are currently campaigning to enact licensing laws. Even though they are licensed medical doctors, Medicare will not pay for their services. Almost all insurance plans will not allow them to be listed as primary care physician. Medicare, as well as other insurance plans, should cover licensed naturopathic medicine for the following reasons: sound science, cost efficiency, and freedom of health choice.
Those opposed to the idea of allowing natural medicine to be legitimized are the members of the established allopathic medical bailiwick. They do not accept any other doctrine other than their own. They would audaciously use words like “pseudoscience” and even “quackery” in an effort to discredit natural medicine in order to maintain their dominance over the multi-trillion dollar health care industry. Self-proclaimed “Quackbusters” are organizations funded by big drug companies and established medical associations. They are orthodox medical professionals who are paid to testify to any legislative body considering enacting any form of health care freedom. One such quackbuster is Dr. Stephen Barrett, psychiatrist, founder of Quackwatch, Inc., and co-founder of the National Council against Health Fraud (Barrett). Barrett and his organizations have campaigned against any establishment of any holistic or natural health including chiropractic care. His Quackwatch website contains extremely biased articles against any doctrine of medicine other than his own. He has “retired” from practicing medicine in order to spend his time filing lawsuits against chiropractic and holistic medical associations and practitioners as well as writing biased articles and publications. Dr Barrett’s critics consider him to be a part of a conspiracy to keep control of the health care empire. Barrett was forced to give up his medical license in 1993 after being terminated from a Pennsylvania mental hospital because he could not afford his malpractice insurance that the state requires (Bolen). The opponents claim that natural medicine does not follow established scientific methods and are “unproven” and results are anecdotal at best. They argue that holistic medicine is not backed by clinical testing with random, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, mass-sampling studies.
Natural medicines cannot be compared to pharmaceutical drugs because they have differing philosophies. Although there have been a lot of clinical trials on several of the natural therapies, most natural therapies are not designed to target the disease but rather the patient’s natural self-healing ability, and they cannot be studied the same way as drugs. Natural and herbal medicines have not been through the same intensity of clinical trials because of a lack of research funds. Since herbs and natural medicine cannot be patented or copyrighted, there is no financial incentive to fund clinical trials. Drug companies can patent their products and charge outrageous prices for drugs; therefore, they can recover cost of research, development and clinical testing.
If Medicare and insurance companies would cover naturopathic medicine, it would save them money. It is more cost effective to change the oil in your car every five thousand miles than to replace a burned out engine. Therefore, the same can be said about preventing disease that could cost thousands of dollars to treat. The philosophy of holistic medicine is based on first treating the individual person’s total state of wellness before treating a disease. The World Health Organization’s definition of health is “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO). Naturopaths believe in prevention of disease by optimizing health whereas the allopathic doctors mainly focus on symptom control. Naturopathy promotes the body’s natural, inherent self-healing process. To maintain one’s optimum health is a lot less expensive than to treat a serious disease.
Since Medicare does not cover naturopathic care, millions of people who cannot afford the out-of-pocket cost are excluded from preventative care. Governor Timothy M. Kaine signed a bill in Virginia in 2007 granting teenagers 14 and over and parents the right to refuse orthodox medical care and seek alternative therapies. This bill was in response to a case involving Abraham Cherrix a 16-year-old teen that was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer and refused chemotherapy to pursue alternative therapy. A judge ordered Abraham to undergo chemotherapy, and his parents were found guilty of neglect because they supported Abraham’s decision. Fortunately for Abraham, this decision was overturned (Craig). Chemotherapy destroys the body on a cellular level in a risky and desperate attempt to reduce the amount of cancer cells in the body. Patients, like Abraham’s, should be allowed to choose the care that they believe suits them best.
A quack is defined in dictionaries as “…one who talks pretentiously without sound knowledge of the subject discussed,” (Barrett) yet opponents to holistic medicine are talking pretentiously without any sound knowledge of natural medicine. In light of the number of fatalities the orthodox allopathic health care industry causes every year and the uncounted permanently damaged and injured people who have suffered from the “scientifically proven” medicine, maybe the word “quackery” should be applied more to allopathic medicine. Where pharmaceutical drugs have side effects, herbal and natural medicines have side benefits. Several millions of Americans use some type of natural therapy regularly with out-of-pocket cost. Most of them would probably want an N.D. as their primary care physician. Medicare and insurance companies would save money simply by keeping their members healthier. Natural medicine has worked for centuries and has been proven over time. Although there will always be quackery and fraud in the holistic as well as the allopathic world of medicine, licensing laws and organizations, like the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, help to assure consumers that naturopathic physicians meet rigorous nationally standardized educational requirements. Since the states are starting to license and regulate naturopathic medicine, the federal government should respect states rights by allowing Medicare to pay for all licensed physicians that the state allows.
Pomeranz, Bruce H; Paul N Corey and Jason Lazarou. “Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: a meta-analysis of prospective studies.” JAMA (18 November 1998): 280. 3 May 2008
O’Connor, Eileen. “Medical errors kill tens of thousands annually, panel says”
The Associated Press and CNN, 30 November 1999. 3 May 2008
Barrett, Steven. “A Close Look at Naturopathy.” Quackwatch, Inc. 3 May 2008
Bolen, Tim. “Failed MD Steven Barrett.” Millions of Health Freedom Fighters – Newsletter
3 May 2008
WHO. “CONSTITUTION OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION.” WHO Basic Documents. Forty-fifth edition, Supplement, October 2006. 3 May 2008
Craig, Tim. “Kaine Signs Tax Cut for Poor, Medical Rights for Sick Teens.” Washington Post 22 March 2007. 3 May 2008