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How Integrative Medicine Can Help You Be Healthier

This best-of-both-worlds approach to medicine blends conventional science and complementary practices.

By Sally Wadyka
Medicinal plant and pillsCraig Cutler

 

Does IM Cost More?

It’s true that in many cases complementary treatments are not at present covered by insurance. But if you see an integrative doctor who is also a primary-care physician, office visits and medical testing may be covered, and other therapies may fall under your insurance. "Don’t just assume it’s not covered," says Maizes. "There’s tremendous variation by state and insurance company, so it’s worth checking." And even treatments that aren’t covered may qualify for reimbursement under the rules of your company’s limited health-care flexible-spending account.

 

So Is IM the Future of Medicine?

Integrative doctors hope so. In fact, they hope to lose the "integrative medicine" label altogether. As more doctors emerge from medical-school programs that incorporate integrative training, and existing doctors learn from patients and research, Maizes says, "I think IM will lose its separateness and just become the medicine we practice." When you walk into many high-tech fertility clinics or cancer centers and see brochures for acupuncturists, massage therapists, and yoga teachers, that’s a sign of just how close this is to reality.

To find a qualified integrative physician in your area, visit the website of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine (imconsortium.org). This organization has a state-by-state directory of integrative health centers; many list their doctors, too.

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