Insurance coverage for naturopathic doctors can be difficult. Naturopathic doctors are controversial in many states with most insurance companies refusing to provide coverage. Insurance companies that do accept naturopathic doctors may offer limited coverage. Furthermore, costs will vary significantly from one provider to the next. There are states where coverage is mandatory but does not apply to Medicare.
Naturopathic Medicine Controversy
Naturopathy does not have legal status in all states. In South Carolina, for example, the practice of naturopathy is illegal. Some states like Kansas and Connecticut prohibit naturopathic doctors, or NDs, from performing tasks such as surgeries. Other states openly embrace naturopathic practices. It is for reasons such as these that insurance companies have mixed policies about providing coverage.
Naturopathic Insurance Coverage Costs
Insurance coverage costs will vary tremendously. The major factors include whether naturopathy is legally recognized by state law and if the insurance company accepts the naturopathic doctor as an out-of-network or in-network care provider. Some insurance companies choose to reimburse costs versus covering them initially. Alternatively, you may be able to use your health savings account to cover costs. Insurance costs are set by each medical plan provider so check with your provider for a detailed quote.
Full Coverage States
States like Washington and Vermont make it mandatory for insurance companies to provide coverage for alternative care. For example, in Vermont insurance companies must reimburse naturopathic services in the same way they cover a traditional doctor. Similar to other medical plans co-pays and deductibles still apply. Additionally, a referral from your primary care physician may also be required. Out-of-pocket costs may be higher if the naturopathic doctor is not part of the plan's referral network.
Other Cost Considerations
There are exceptions to plan coverage even if state law accepts naturopathy. Medicare, out-of-state medical plans and certain small business plans may not provide any coverage for alternative care whatsoever. In other cases, out-of-pocket costs to naturopathic treatments may be less expensive than fully insured conventional medical equivalents when pharmaceutical drugs are involved, according to Naturopathyworks.com, at the time of publication 1. This is due to the price disparity between expensive traditional prescription drugs and cheaper natural alternatives.