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Insurance Coverage for Alternative Therapies

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Terri R.
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Joined: 21 Apr 2004
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Location: So. Calif.

PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2004 7:41 am    Post subject: Insurance Coverage for Alternative Therapies Reply with quote

Colorado Employers Can Enrich Their Health Benefits Through New Complementary Health Care Coverages

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 30, 2004--

  New Program Helps Employers Meet Demand for Alternative Care without Squeezing the Bottom Line  

For the first time, Colorado employers can directly purchase complementary health benefit plans from a specialty health insurance company, making popular options such as acupuncture and chiropractic care more accessible and affordable for their employees. Other high demand treatments, including massage therapy and dietetic counseling, also are available. Employer groups are able to purchase complementary health benefits as a supplemental group benefit rider, similar to purchasing vision, dental or behavioral health coverage.

These new health benefit programs are available to Colorado businesses with 51 or more employees through American Specialty Health Insurance Company (ASH Insurance). ASH Insurance is a subsidiary of American Specialty Health, Incorporated (ASH), the nation's largest complementary health care organization in terms of membership and revenues. ASH covers over 9 million members across the United States for complementary health care benefit plans.

According to Denver-based chiropractor Don Aspegren, DC, who participates in the ASH Insurance local provider network, the availability of direct purchase complementary coverage is of increasing importance to patients. "Roughly half of all Americans use some form of complementary health care each year," said Aspegren. "These alternative therapies offer broader treatment options for patients, especially those who suffer with chronic or life-threatening conditions. As indicated by new research just released last week, cancer patients are twice as likely to turn to acupuncture and herbal therapies in addition to their medical treatments as people suffering from other diseases. Typically they are looking to new, less invasive and more holistic types of therapies, which they may use in conjunction with traditional medical treatments."

"Likewise," added Apergren, "chronically ill patients -- who may have persistent neck or back pain -- seek alternative care such as chiropractic because traditional medicine hasn't resolved their health problems."

Many employers today do not have access to alternative coverage through their health plan, as large carriers have been slow to adopt this coverage. ASH offers the advantage of direct purchase plans.

"In these days of double-digit health benefits increases, business owners are beginning to view complementary health benefit additions as a positive way to enhance their employee benefit package at a relatively low cost compared to traditional medical treatments," said George DeVries, president and chief executive officer of ASH. "In fact, complementary health benefit plans are one of the few programs employers are continuing to add to their employee benefit packages during the current trend of double-digit rate increases." DeVries attributed this trend to two compelling factors -- low-cost and high demand from employees.

The new product offerings in Colorado are part of ASH Insurance's strategy to help meet today's heightened consumer demand and to fulfill employer desire for such coverage. Local employees who have this benefit can access a Colorado network of close to 700 contracted providers. Furthermore, when insureds are traveling, they have access to a national provider network of more than 22,000 contracted acupuncturists, chiropractors, dietitians, massage therapists, medical doctors, and osteopathic physicians. In many cases, ASH Insurance may also cover employees residing in other states.

ASH Insurance offers a broad range of benefit options, combinations, and plans for employers and their employees. For maximum flexibility, employers may choose from approximately 15 different combinations of complementary health care benefits. Once an employer group has selected a benefit combination, it is then able to select from as many as 25 different benefit plans for each benefit combination.

In-network benefits range from 20, 30, 40, 50 or unlimited visits per year with copayments of $0, $5, $10, $15 or $20 per visit, depending upon plan design. Out-of-network benefits provide reimbursement of 50 percent of billed charges -- up to $30 per visit, up to 10 visits per year.

ASH is the nation's leading specialty benefits organization for complementary health care, providing health benefit, health education, and affinity network programs to employer groups, trust funds, health plans and insurance carriers nationwide. Its subsidiary, ASH Insurance, is currently licensed or admitted as an insurer in 41 states. ASH and its subsidiaries have administered and managed supplemental group benefit riders for acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage therapy on behalf of health plans since 1987, currently covering tens of thousands of groups nationally.

Based in San Diego, ASH has over 500 employees and more than 9 million members in benefit programs nationwide. For more information about American Specialty Health, visit www.ashcompanies.com.
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