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When Doctors Can’t Get Health Insurance

We use a little company called Assurant to administer the employee health insurance plan for our business.  We have about 50 employees, not all of whom are on our insurance (some get theirs through a spouse), so we are in a particularly undesirable segment of the small-business market. Ironically, we have had a fair amount of difficulty in getting coverage which was affordable and sustainable. A lot of insurers wouldn’t even bid on us. Funny, right?  The doctors can’t get health care insurance!  Hysterical! So we wound up with an unusual sort of self-funded plan administered by Assurant, which was working OK.

Recently, however, a couple of our doctors wound up taking family members to the ER for various reasons — nothing serious, but common and reasonable presentations for an ER.  And Assurant denied payment for the claims.  They didn’t deny it outright, actually, just imposed a $500 “penalty for non-emergent use of the Emergency Room” on top of the usual co-pays and deductibles. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

Is It Safe For Naturopaths To Prescribe Drugs?

I am a terrible Oregon chauvinist.  I think there is no better place to live on the planet. Period.  Great natural beauty, not a lot of people, best beer ever and no pro football team. Oregon is both casual and tolerant.  It is safe to say that dressing up in the Pacific NW means tucking your t shirt into your jeans.  And the citizens of the NW, especially in the Portland metro area, are tolerant of  a diverse number of alternative life styles. What more could you want?

No good deed goes unpunished. The downside of toleration is the proliferation of alternative medicine.  Portland has  a school of chiropractic, a college of oriental medicine and  the country’s oldest school of naturopathy, established in 1956.  It is a year older than me. There are about 850 ND’s in Oregon.  To judge from the number of alternative practitioner offices around my hospital,  most of the graduates stay in Portland.

There are five health care systems in Portland.   Three of the five have hired naturopaths as part of their complementary medicine programs.   My system, as of yet, does not have a scam practitioner on staff, a fact of which I am most proud.  Yet,  I suppose it will come some day. However, if you wonder if a hospital practices evidence and science based medicine, see if they have a naturopath, a chiropractor or an acupuncturist on staff.  If they do, they may be interested in issues other than providing quality health care.

Oregon has had a Board of Naturopathic physicians since 1929 to oversee naturopathic practice.  There has been a long tradition of legislative oversight of naturopathy in Oregon, but they have been able, until recently, to only prescribe medications that are naturally derived.  None of that synthetic nonsense for naturopaths. Natural products only.  Until this month.

In Oregon, naturopaths are no longer limited to natural, herbal and homeopathic concoctions, they can also prescribe substances that actually work.  Recently House Bill 327  was passed by the Oregon legislature to expand the prescriptive privileges of naturopaths.  Drugs can now be added to the naturopathic  formulary just by asking.  The bill was passed by the Senate 22-7 and the House unanimously.  Bummer. If you live in Oregon and want to pester your representative on their profound stupidity, a list is at Send them a link to this post.

As a “shill for big pharma and a tool of the medical-industrial complex,” I suggest this may not be such a  good idea.  Naturopaths do not have the training, experience  or understanding of medicine to safely prescribe medications. Their understanding of disease and the various therapies taught at naturopathic schools are antithetical to what is required to safely and knowledgeably  prescribe modern medications.

To give prescription medications correctly and safely, one needs to understand anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and the pathophysiology of diseases.  Real medical providers (MD’s, DO’s, NP’s and PA’s)  have to have not only years of education in school, but a residency or other training to be able to appropriately use these medications.

What is a naturopath and what is their education?

First the Philosophy of Naturopathy.  Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

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