What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic doctors are trained in making the effort to utilize the least therapeutic force when treating patients; however, we are also very passionate about ensuring that our patients are able to be their most creative, artistic, compassionate, and functional members of society, as well. So, if that means starting with a therapy that requires a higher-force intervention, then we do what is required to ensure that your quality of life does not suffer while we work on treating the root cause of the problem. Once we have re-established the foundations of health, and have utilized our tools to assist your body in achieving optimal functioning, then at that time, the higher therapeutic intervention(s) are no longer needed and can be discontinued. We are not in the business of covering up your symptoms and sending you on your way; we take the time to dive deeply into your health history, family history, genetics, diet, exercise, sleep, work, stress, etc. – in other words, we look at all of the ways that you are uniquely you, and we work with you in a combined effort to make the changes that will work for your individual daily lifestyle. Our overarching approach is not to fit you into a box or to practice cookie-cutter medicine.
How do NDs Differ From MDs?
What sets naturopathic doctors apart from conventional mainstream medicine is that we are constantly on the lookout for reducing your need for therapies that are too high in force (i.e. higher in the therapeutic order). When you repeatedly use high-force interventions to bandage your symptoms, you are effectively suppressing your body’s innate ability to fight disease and return to normal health. What happens when we allow ourselves to mindlessly take over-the-counter and/or prescription medications is that this cycle continues unchecked; therefore, all of the hard work our bodies are trying to do to bring us back to a state of health and optimal homeostasis is continuously being stopped dead in its tracks. When your body has to fight against these types of repeated insults, the original insult that resulted in disease will be pushed deeper into the body. A common example of this is that when common skin conditions, such as eczema, are treated with topical steroids during our youth, oftentimes you will see asthma appear later in life, which is a much deeper and more chronic condition impacting the lungs, as opposed to the original issue affecting the skin. Naturopathic doctors are your personal medical detectives, and work to identify the root cause of the issue(s) so that they can be eliminated, rather than merely covered up.
Do You Take Insurance?
Unfortunately, Naturopathic Doctors in the state of California are considered out-of-network providers. Therefore, I would highly encourage you to give the number on the back of your insurance card a call to ask them whether or not you have out-of-network health benefits, and if so, what is your out-of-network deductible specifically (oftentimes the out-of-network deductible may be separate from your in-network deductible), what percentage of the visit cost is their responsibility to cover, and also whether or not you have any out-of-network benefits that are specific to lab / diagnostic testing. The reason it is important to distinguish between the out-of-network visits and the out-of-network lab testing is that oftentimes we need to order specialty lab assessments of body fluids other than blood through outside / specialty labs (e.g. stool / urine / salivary testing), and you may, in fact, be able to receive reimbursement for these labs from your insurance carrier, as well. If you find out that you do in fact have out-of-network benefits through your insurance, our office will provide you with a Super Bill, which will contain all of your ICD-10 diagnostic codes for each visit, as well as the CPT procedural codes. This way, your insurance provider will have everything they will require to reimburse you for the cost of each visit, as well as potentially specialty labs!
Some healthcare companies, such as Kaiser Healthcare, for example, do not offer their patients any type of out-of-network benefits. In cases such as these, one way that we are able to get the blood work that our patients need is to create a laboratory requisition form to have patients present to their in-network providers, so that they can ask them to be the “ordering provider” on their blood work. When your in-network provider is in fact the ordering provider, then your insurance is much more likely to cover the cost of the labs, as opposed to when an out-of-network provider is the ordering provider on your blood work. Although Kaiser providers used to be much more reluctant to order cutting-edge lab markers, many of them are becoming more open to ordering these blood markers for their patients because they have continued seeing that their patients are not improving, and they want to support them in finding the root cause.
The other option would be to see if your insurance is in-network with the lab performing the testing directly; if this is the case, then it will not matter whether an in-network or out-of-network provider orders your labs, your insurance will cover the cost of the labs because they are in-network with the lab performing your blood draw directly.
How Much Do Visits Cost?
Our office bills at the time of the visit / service at an hourly rate of $495. We also have prepaid “Wellness Package” options for visits and treatments, which can help to provide savings at a discounted hourly rate. For more information about what takes place in our initial visit, as compared to follow-up visits, please click the Office Visits link.
How Frequently Do Follow-Up Visits Take Place?
We typically have our initial intake / establishing care visit, which is a 60-minute visit comprised of a very detailed health / family / genetics / lifestyle (e.g. diet, sleep, stress, movement, etc.) / medication / supplement review, where we also review your records, and come up with our action plan for which types of blood / other bodily fluid assessment(s) we are going to perform. Once we have the results of all of these lab tests, then we have our 45-minute initial follow-up visit to review the results of the different labs, as well as to discuss our extensive treatment plan that is unique to the findings in your results. The goal of naturopathic medicine should never be to just give you things to take without a clear explanation as to why. We are ideally identifying the different insults that are taking place through the laboratory testing that we order, and then we provide you with the specific therapeutics that are unique to these findings. Generally, the typical cadence for follow-up visits tends to be once a quarter; however, each individual is unique in that depending upon which body systems we are working on, there may be a need for more frequent, or more spaced-out, follow-up visits. Essentially, our long-term goal is always to target the therapies for short-term / temporary use, so that we can get you to a point where you will not need to take anything, or be dependent on any specific therapy at all.
What Types of Therapies Do You Use to Treat Patients?
You’ve probably heard this ad nauseam by now, but Naturopathic Doctors will always start by discussing the very essential foundations of health. Again, until we are able to re-establish our foundations of health, and remove the obstacles to cure (i.e. get out of our own ways), we will continue inhibiting our body’s own ability to move in the direction of optimal health. Therefore, we will always address diet / nutrition / hydration, sleep, movement, opening up pathways of elimination, etc. before we move into discussing supplemental therapies. Some of the supplemental therapies that we may recommend can include nutraceuticals, vitamins, trace minerals, amino acids, botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, home exercises, and many more.