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  • Dr Kristina Conner

How is Your Health Like a Bank Account?

# 2/4 of our Comprehensive Cost Guide to Natural Medical Care

Money Growth
Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

While many people want access to natural medical care, finances can be a limit. Even if your budget allows some discretionary healthcare spending or you have partial insurance coverage for natural medicine practitioners, it can still be puzzling why natural medical care seems to cost more than conventional care. I have found this the #1 barrier to patients getting the type & level of natural medical care they need. Over my years of practice, I have found this the #1 barrier to patients getting the type & level of natural medical care they need. Not the actual finances always, but more the overall understanding about the value of natural medicine. So let’s talk next about this critical topic.

One answer for why natural medical care costs more than conventional care for the consumer is because it’s outside the current healthcare system. Seems like an obvious answer, right, but this is what I mean--do you remember when I said that work in the “maintenance” or “small leaks” is largely outside of our current healthcare system? That is particularly true when it comes to payment for such services. While there’s more talk about moving towards wellness-based model for healthcare, we are far from it right now. Most consumers don’t have adequate access to true preventative or early intervention care. That’s why cost becomes a large factor when you seek services in this area—your insurance coverage is not likely to cover it.

Now, this does not mean that natural medical care is more expensive than conventional care. In fact, the opposite is true. In the long-term especially, and often in the short-term, a wellness-based model of healthcare is incredibly cost effective! Think about it—does it cost more to prevent diabetes or to treat it once it develops? Not to mention the difference in quality of life when a condition is prevented or managed conservatively. And looking further at specific expenses, natural medicine practitioners charge much less per hour or procedure than most conventional providers. Yet since most natural medicine patients are using natural medicine in addition to whatever they pay into a conventional care system, and we don’t see the future money we may save, we perceive the costs to be higher.

The unfortunate marriage of capitalism and healthcare has made most of us think that preventative care is less important than conventional care, or worse yet, that preventative medicine is a luxury! It absolutely is NOT! Everyone needs and deserves a solid foundation for health. Does that mean that everyone needs to see a natural medicine physician? I’d say in an ideal world yes, because health can be complicated and everyone can use an expert guide who knows them. But until that becomes reality, some of the work is left up to the individual.

Once you understand these circumstances, it can be easier to perceive natural medical care as valuable and worth the money. Yet you may still have real concerns about affording natural medical care. Pricing can be confusing, since you don’t know “how much” natural healthcare you will need. Honestly, as natural medical providers we don’t often help in that regard; we want to give the patient value and charge them as little as possible, but often that results in underestimating a realistic course of care. Patients then think the treatment didn’t work, and feel like they did not receive anything for their money, time, and effort. It frustrates us all.

To move away from this dilemma, I have found myself asking different questions about cost of care. For a potential patient, I would suggest if you shift your thinking from “How little can I spend to get care?” to “What is the most cost-effective route to my health goal?” This requires some change in the way we set expectations.

Curious why your health is like a roof? Read part 1 of the Comprehensive Cost Guide and find out!

Setting Expectations when Seeking Natural Medical Care

Part of why it’s so difficult to estimate costs with healthcare is that we often have difficulty setting goals and expectations. There are two major factors that will help determine the length and cost of care: how much healthcare the individual needs, and how much assistance they need to get this healthcare.

To figure out how much healthcare one needs, we first have to discuss the approach towards health in general. The modern way of thinking about the body is like a machine. It works until it breaks down or wears down, and then you repair it as you can. We do recognize that there are some things that we need for health maintenance—getting a yearly physical or having our teeth cleaned twice a year are good examples. But it has taken much training to get us to accept even this point—think of all the books, media, and health reminders from civic groups that it takes to get most of us to accept the idea of regular checkups. When we continue to see the body as a machine that works fine until it just breaks down, then it doesn’t make much sense to much in the way of maintenance or prevention, which makes it easy to ignore.

But what if we start to see health as more of a balance like a bank account, where you can only continue to make withdrawals (everyday stresses/aging and extraordinary challenges) when you have a big enough foundation (underlying health constitution) and put in enough deposits (habits & practices that build health).

When you think of health in these terms, it makes sense to address an immediate problem, but also keep working at actively rebuilding health at the same time. This is where ongoing care comes in—to help balance the scale, particularly when we make more deposits—such as a big life event or extra stress in our everyday life. Since there are a number of factors that create balance, each person’s requirements vary.

For example, a generally well person who has a minor issue like a cold may only need minor help to get better—the small arrow here:

One the other hand, if another person has chronic immune issues and higher levels of everyday stress, when they get a cold, their bank account is going to look like this:

And they will require more help—the larger arrow--to achieve balance. In addition, they may benefit from more health building habits or less everyday stresses, to maintain regular balance.

As you can see, every person will have a different combination of "deposits" and "withdrawals"; and that these continually change throughout one's life, also.

In part 3 of 4 of the Comprehensive Cost Guide to Natural Medical Care, we'll go into the other major determining factor on length and cost of care: how much assistance someone needs to get their proper level of healthcare.