Minnesota takes steps to recognize complementary, alternative medicine; huge health care cost savings expected

(NewsTarget) Minnesota Representative Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, has introduced a bill to the House this session to urge lawmakers to investigate complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and possibly allow it to be covered by the state’s publicly funded insurance program.Many insurance companies do not fund CAM treatments, but Abeler, a chiropractor, believes that if state-funded insurance programs were to cover the less-invasive therapies, the state could save 10 to 20 percent on health care.

“There’s been a tidal wave of both consumer interest as well as a growing body of evidence to show that many of these approaches are safe, effective, that they make sense to do,” says Mary Jo Kreitzer, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing. Kreitzer says providing Minnesotans the opportunity to use CAM therapies without having to pay out-of-pocket is the fair thing to do, and says strong evidence exists that CAM is effective medicine.

Critics of Abeler’s bill say patients would simply add CAM therapies to their existing treatments instead of substituting one for the other, potentially costing the state even more money. However, Abeler says with the current system, most patients only try CAM after exhausting Western medical resources. Were patients to try CAM therapies before more expensive Western treatments, Abeler says they could potentially solve their medical problems more quickly, saving the state money.

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