Healing without surgery or drugs
As debate over national health care continues and rising costs remain a major political issue, there’s one camp that says the time is right for their voices (and statistics) to be heard: the purveyors of alternative medicine.
It’s not that consumers aren’t already listening, with specialty businesses, holistic treatment programs, and alternative medicine services growing by vitamin-charged leaps and bounds, and progressive hospitals offering seminars to help patients weed through the hype (especially miracle-cure Internet claims) and make informed choices.
Dr. Ann Horstmann, a chiropractor for over 20 years at Appalachian Chiropractic Clinic in Sevierville says her field of medicine has its share of success stories, but she hopes people will become even better informed about choices and about patient responsibility in health care.
While she isn’t ready to put out a sign that says, ‘Here’s where rising health care costs are better managed,’ she does believe her field not only contributes to better health for her patients, but in the long run can save them (and their insurance companies) money.
“We treat the whole person,” Horstmann said. “We look at everything, diet, lifestyle, exercise. Often, symptoms that seem unrelated to chronic pain, like ulcers or high blood pressure, are also addressed at the same visit.”
Realtor Karen Schoenfield of Remax All Pro in Gatlinburg said she was seriously considering shoulder surgery but decided to give Horstmann a try “out of frustration.”
“In two weeks time I was pain free,” Schoenfield said. The idea of surgery, not to mention her pain medication, was tossed out, saving her, and her insurance company, thousands of dollars.
“My husband Jeff and I pay $639 per month for what we consider poor coverage in health insurance,” Schoenfield said. “With that kind of cost, there’s no way that I’m not going to take the time to be informed about alternative treatment options that are available to me when I need it.”
Trudy Moore of the Acupuncture and Healing Arts Center, with offices in Gatlinburg and Sevierville, is another alternative medicine specialist armed with statistics and patient testimonies.
With procedures used to treat chronic pain, depression, fibromyalgia, stroke and substance abuse, Moore is licensed by a national board out of Washington, DC. Tennessee, she says, is now in the process of requiring a state license as well.
Her statistics include an independent study in six clinics (Health Visions 2000; Claire Cassidy) that boasts 79 percent of acupuncture patients using fewer prescription drugs after treatment and 77 percent reporting that they asked for fewer reimbursements from insurance companies.
Moore, however, isn’t doing any third-party insurance billing and isn’t lobbying to get insurance companies in Tennessee to pay for procedures in her field of service.
She says that the way insurance companies pay low “customary fees” for procedures is totally frustrating for not only herself, but her friends who also work in the medical field.
“I know a surgeon who billed $1.4 million in 15 months, but ended up receiving only $350,000 out of it after insurance and customer ‘no-pays,’” Moore said. “After he paid $75,000 in malpractice insurance premiums, and paid for rent on his office and staff salaries, how much do you think he had left?”
Still, Moore is seeing patients willing to pay for her services on a cash-only basis, and offers, like Horstmann, a holistic approach to treatment. While doing acupuncture and practicing Chinese medicine (a program of complex herbal formulas), she also gives advice on nutrition and exercise and relaxation techniques including meditation.
She also gives referrals, and one place she might mention to a patient is the Whole Earth Grocery in Gatlinburg.
Brady says there are food fads and herbal fads, but people that take the responsibility and the time to find out what works best for them achieve the best results.