A visit to a chiropractor, acupuncturist, or other nontraditional healer has become increasingly commonplace; more than a third of Americans use some form of complementary or alternative medicine, according to the National Institutes of Health. But even though a growing number of studies suggest that these treatments can be beneficial for many patients, insurers are still reluctant to cover all types of alternative medicine, often leaving you on the hook for the costs.
You may consider that money well spent, especially if you suffer from chronic pain. “Combined with traditional medicine, alternative therapies are important treatment tools,” says Dr. Marc Brodsky, medical director of the Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, Conn. These common approaches have research to back up their effectiveness. Still, they don’t work in every case. The key is figuring out when shouldering the cost pays and when it doesn’t.