What is wellness worth?
If you ask a healthy person, they would probably give you a far different answer than someone who was once healthy and is now dealing with illness.
In Canada, we are accustomed to health care being “free”. It really isn’t free; we pay taxes to provide all of us (even those who don’t pay tax) with healthcare, but we don’t pay directly, so it seems free… Because we are used to getting the care we need as we need it without hassle (for the most part) and with no need to make a decision about our health based on money, it can be difficult to consider all the health care options for which we must pay out of pocket. Naturopathic medicine is one of these (along with massage therapy, chiropractic, osteopathic, physiotherapy, etc).
A lot of people ask me if/when naturopathic medicine will be covered by OHIP. I have no idea if this is even a possibility at this point, but the more important question is, should it be? Sure, this would cover the cost for everyone but it would also likely eliminate the most valuable aspect of naturopathic medicine, which is the ability to treat people individually. Under our provincial healthcare plan, medical doctors do not have this freedom; they are bound by “standard of care” and algorithms and “first-line” drug therapy for many chronic diseases.
Naturopathic doctors have the freedom to spend a lot of time with each patient and to create a personalized treatment plan for each. That means that one patient with diabetes may be treated entirely different from the next. Not only does this kind of care require longer visits, but it also requires a lot more time spent by the doctor outside the visit to research, analyze, and prepare an appropriate plan. My patients understand the value of their naturopathic treatment and view their insurance coverage as a helping hand. However, many chronic health issues will require treatment beyond what insurance will subsidize.
People will often tell me how much they think they could benefit from naturopathic care, but they can’t afford it. I think the actual number of people who truly can’t afford it is much smaller.
What is your health worth to you?
Most people don’t think twice about paying for clothing, purses, hair styling, entertainment, eating out, travel, etc and would never expect these “essentials” to be paid for by the government. Far too many people are eager to live beyond their means in a home that is more than they need, driving a car that is too expensive, and buying themselves and their kids enough toys to entertain many families. However, these same people balk at paying for healthcare, which is hands-down far more valuable and essential. Investment in your health is just another place for your discretionary spending, something that improves your quality of life and in fact is an investment in the most valuable asset you will ever own – your health.
But, but, but… What about people who can barely make ends meet, who are on disability, social assistance, etc? You know, the people who really need help with many aspects of their lives, especially health? That is where there is a problem. I challenge you to find a naturopathic doctor who doesn’t make exceptions for this kind of case in his or her practice. This helps some people, but not all. And that’s why places like this exist:
- Community PHA Naturopathic clinic at Sherbourne Health Centre
- Anishnawbe Health Toronto
- Lakeshore Area Multi-service Project naturopathic clinic
- Queen West Community Health Centre
- Parkdale Community Health Centre
Consider what your health is worth, what health allows you to do in your life. Consider what you think is a reasonable investment to maintain that. Finally, consider what it will cost you (in money but also in quality of life) to regain health once it has suffered.