On Sunday night, the 21st of March 2010, the House of Representatives passed a comprehensive health care bill that had been in debate ever since President Obama took office. Although nothing is set in stone, this bill will probably go into effect within 4 years, 3 if some folks have their way, and it will change the entire landscape of health care for many.
Does this bill have any kind of effect on alternative medicine? On the surface it would seem that answer would be no, but if one digs a little bit deeper into things, it’s possible that there could be some fallout on the back end.
For instance, a provision that many people don’t really support could end up being the kicker against alternative medicine. It’s the requirement that people buy into a health care program if they don’t already have one, or pay fines to the federal government in the guise of extra taxes. For people who already have insurance through an employer this means nothing to them. But if you don’t have insurance and have always used alternative medicine to help keep you healthy, suddenly you might not have the money to pay for it anymore. The initial bill called for penalties of up to $900 for individuals and $3,800 for families that didn’t buy into health care plans. That’s steep no matter how you look at it.
Also, according to the New York Times, this bill is friendly towards pharmaceutical companies, which means that if the costs for pharmaceuticals is less than the cost of going holistic and you’re having to pay for one thing that you don’t have to pay for with the other, you might be less inclined spending extra money for something that’s not prescribed by a doctor. Even those who worry about taking a lot of drugs might have to defer when it comes to what might essentially become double payments.
Of course, there’s always the other side of this issue, which is that most people who spend their money on alternative medicine actually have the money to spend on it. Eliminating the people who only buy supplements or herbs as their form of alternative medicine, everyone else who usually gets deeply into alternative medicine are willing to spend whatever they have to for these services. A person willing to spend $2,000 to hang out in a tent sweating in a Phoenix desert isn’t concerned about how much more they might have to spend for health care.
The extra cost isn’t going to keep people from going to see a holistic practitioner for anything else either. That’s already proven by those people who have health care coverage, as none of them are getting that coverage for free. All it means is that those who don’t have coverage now will have to figure out how they best want to distribute their money. As abhorrent as it is to be fined a certain amount for not having health care, it’s still less than paying for health care over the period of a year for either individuals or families if you choose not to go that route.
So yes, it will impact you. How much depends on how committed you feel you are towards alternative medicine options.