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The Chiropractic Scoliosis Patient Dilemma
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Written by Dennis Woggon, BSc, DC   
Thursday, 25 April 2013 18:55
hat is the chiropractic profession’s position when it comes to treating scoliosis? What have our chiropractic universities taught us? Are we only treating subluxations and not the scoliosis? Are we adjusting for symptoms and not trying to correct the scoliosis? Why does the scoliosis patient live if there are extreme subluxations? 
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine diagnosed as being more than a 10-degree Cobb angle. Horizontal vertebral body baselines are drawn on the superior and inferior aspects of the most tilted vertebra, and a perpendicular line is drawn to intersect. This angle is measured and that is the Cobb angle.
The standard medical treatment is to watch and wait from 10 to 25 degrees, brace it at 25 degrees, and perform surgery at 40 degrees.
Doctors of Chiropractic are frequently the first opportunity for patients to receive a scoliosis screening and it should be part of the chiropractic examination, especially with children from 10 to 15 years old. 
The Scoliometer is an inexpensive tool to do this measurement and is more accurate than the Adams test.  

Some cases of scoliosis respond well to standard chiropractic treatment and some do not.

It has been stated that scoliosis affects 4.5% of children1,  12% of female college students2,  25 – 30% of the general population3,  and 68% of the population over sixty years old4.In 2000, an estimated 2.7 million patient visits were made to American chiropractors for scoliosis and scoliosis-related complaints5. Charles Lantz, DC states, “Full-spine chiropractic adjustments with heel lifts and lifestyle counseling are not effective in reducing the severity of scoliotic curves.” 6 
Some cases of scoliosis respond well to standard chiropractic treatment and some do not. When they don’t respond, are we obligated to refer scoliosis patients to an orthopedic surgeon for bracing or surgery?
CLEAR Scoliosis Institute is the only organization in the chiropractic profession dedicated to finding an effective alternative to waiting, bracing, and surgery.
What are the options?
  • Do a scoliosis screening on all your patients. Scoliosis accelerates at 11.7 years of age.7 The Adams test is ineffective8 because once the rib hump is present, the scoliosis is above 30 degrees. Use a Scoliometer and check posture, stance, and gait.
  • If there is a scoliosis, do not adjust the “high side of the rainbow.” Do not perform posterior to anterior thoracic adjusting.9
  • Monitor the scoliosis. Perform the Scoliometer test on every visit. Re-exams and x-rays should be done every three months.
  • ScoliScore is a saliva based genetic marker test that will predict within a 99% certainty if an existing scoliosis will progress.10 It is applicable to a scoliosis from 10 to 25 degrees and for a child 9 to 13 years old.
  • Communicate with the orthopedic physician about the case and your treatment plan and goals.
  • Consider referring the patient to a CLEAR certified scoliosis doctor. This doctor will evaluate the patient and establish a treatment plan to reduce and stabilize the scoliosis. The CLEAR doctor will then work with the referring doctor to co-manage the patient.

Doctors of Chiropractic should be the spinal experts. Instead of referring the patient to an orthopedic doctor for bracing or surgery, consider an inter-professional referral to a CLEAR scoliosis doctor.

Chiropractic first, drugs second, surgery last!

  1. The etiology of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Am J Orthop 2002 Jul;31 (7) :387-95 Ahn et al, New Hampshire Spine Institute
  2. “Scoliosis screening of 3,000 college-aged women. The Utah Study – Phase 2”, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, Francis RS. Phys Ther 1988 Oct;68(10):
  3. Chiropractic Technique: 1920, BJ Palmer
  4. Adult scoliosis: prevalence, SF-36, and nutritional parameters in an elderly volunteer population. Schwab F et al. Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Spine Service, Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, USA. fschwab@ worldnet.att.net Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2005 May 1;30(9):1082-5
  5. Ref: Christensen MG, Kerkhoff D, Kollasch MW: Job analysis of chiropractic 2000. Greeley, Colorado: National Board of Chiropractic Examiners; 2000
  6. Effect of Chiropractic intervention on small scoliotic curves in younger subjects: A time-series cohort design. JMPT 2001 Jul-Aug;(6):385-93, Lantz CA, Chen J.
  7. Maturity Assessment & Curve Progression in Girls With IS J. Sanders et al, Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, 2007
  8. J Pediatr Orthop. 1995 Jul-Aug;15(4):535-8.
  9. Posterior to Anterior Thoracic Spinal Adjusting in the Scoliosis Patient Is Contraindicated By Spinal Biomechanics Dr. Dennis Woggon, BSc, DC, CLEAR Institute, http://clear-institute.com/docs/PosteriorAnteriorThoracicAdjusting.pdf
  10. “Prediction of scoliotic cobb angle with the use of the Scoliometer” Spine, 1996 Jul 15;21(14):1661-6
  11. www.axialbiotech.com

Dr. Dennis Woggon is the Founder and Director of the CLEAR Scoliosis Institute. You can find additional information at www.CLEAR-Institute.org. Dr. Woggon can be contacted at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Validating the Role of the Chiropractic Assistant
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Written by Laurie Mueller, DC   
Monday, 25 March 2013 21:27
e are all familiar with the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) and the existence of National Boards parts I, II, III, IV and P.T. for students in the doctor of chiropractic program. However, no such assessment has existed for general employees in chiropractic offices that aid in the performance of physiotherapy modalities on patients until now. Standards of excellence in chiropractic now extend to our chiropractic assistants.
The History of the Issue
successhellonametageConcerns surrounding chiropractic office employee training escalated from what is known as “incident to” concerns, which stemmed from the interests of third-party payers who were being billed for services performed by office employees that did not have documented training. In 2008 the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) and the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB) asked the postgraduate subcommittee of the Association of Chiropractic Colleges (ACC) for recommendations surrounding chiropractic employee training to help address this issue. 
The request was prompted by the above-stated “incident to” issue regarding untrained staff performing billable modalities. But even more important were the concerns of the FCLB surrounding patient protection, safety and office liability. From 2005-2007 alone, NCMIC reported that 5.1% of chiropractic claims stemmed from burns to the patient—clearly a result of modality use. It is important to note that the majority of these reports may fall under the vicarious liability category, which means that the supervising DC is liable for the actions of their employees.
Since the time that the issue was brought forth, the FCLB has been working diligently to find a solution. They have implemented a Certified Chiropractic Clinical Assistant (CCCA) application process as well as guidelines that are now in place; the very first CCCA examination was scheduled for March 1, 2013 and is now available online.
Win-Win Benefits
The creation of the CCCA application and test process is a “win” for the profession on a multitude of levels. Not only does it increase patient safety, it also promotes credibility within our profession and provides a tangible process for third-party payer criteria.
Just as importantly, it provides professional credentialing and validation for the important work that our CAs do every day with our patients, something that has been missing for many CAs. Certification will increase patient-care standards and satisfaction, improve interactions and increase the CAs self-worth for the job they perform for you. Ultimately, certification will further streamline your office operations and cut down on office turnover.
How to Proceed
Start by visiting the FCLB website at www.fclb.org for information about the CCCA program application process and for links to approved programs such as www.CCCAonline.com. The FCLB application fee includes eligibility determination, records management, the examination, and a photo ID badge. Plus, with Internet-based testing, the process is extremely affordable and convenient.Online training programs in particular make high-quality training affordable and convenient. Proof of training or equivalency is required as part of the application process. At www.CCCAonline.com, learners can engage in a streamlined, 24-hour training program that meets or exceeds FCLB guidelines in every area of study.   
Invest in your office today by validating your CA. Full price for training is an affordable $339 for the entire 24-hour program. Plus, www.CCCAonline.com has special discount programs available for Congress of Chiropractic State Association (COCSA) members, participating colleges and other organizations. Ask your local COCSA chapter for your specific discount code. Not a member? If you have received this article through The American Chiropractor Magazine, you can still enjoy a discount. Have your assistant use AMCHIRO as your discount code. When this code is entered during the registration process, it will automatically provide a $15 discount off the regular price of the program through July 31, 2013.
Learners can expect text, images and schematics, dynamic video lectures and robust, customized, experiential, inter-activities in a thorough, 19-module program. Plus, an extensive note packet of nearly 200 pages is included and can be downloaded, printed and studied offline. Learners work at their own pace and can conveniently take programming around work hours to avoid disruption in the office. Questions? Visit our website or send us an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . 
Laurie Mueller, DC served in private practice in San Diego, California. She was the post-graduate director at Palmer College from 2000-2010, served as the ACC Post Graduate subcommittee chair for six years, peer reviewed for the Research Agenda Conference and wrote the informal role determination study that aided in the development of FCLB's guidelines for chiropractic assistants. Dr. Mueller currently works as a private eLearning consultant with a focus on healthcare topics and functional medicine through her company, Impact Writing Solution and subsidiary www.CCCAonline.com. She is a clinician, an educator and an expert in online educational pedagogy.
Encouraging a Chiropractic Lifestyle For Your Patients
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Written by Kevin Wong, DC   
Monday, 25 March 2013 18:17
eing a chiropractor is fulfilling for me because I know I am helping people. I am helping a runner find her stride again after an injury. I am helping a father pick up his kids again without pain. I am helping a senior adult stay active and continue to live a healthy lifestyle. I am sure you have also experienced the joys of being a chiropractor and you have witnessed the benefits of chiropractic care. Let’s discuss ways you can encourage your patients to live a healthy, chiropractic lifestyle.
chiropractor35As healthcare providers, we have the important job of making sure we listen to patients, administer the proper care and relieve patients’ pain so they start to feel better again. Our goal is to help them perform as optimally as possible and it involves teamwork between the doctor and the patient. We guide patients in healing, while they must, in turn, do their home care and perform any exercises we recommend. 
Once patients are out of pain and discomfort, they may feel as if they have their life back again. We encourage them to perform their everyday activities like exercising, playing golf or going places with family. We are extremely pleased when our patients begin feeling better, and eventually they tell us they feel “normal” again. But our responsibility to the patient does not end there.
Doctor-Patient Relationship
I believe in the importance of a relationship with my patients – one that is deeply rooted in trust and understanding – on the first day I meet them. I explain and educate them on their ailment, the treatment and what they are expected to do outside the office to help get them better. This expectation I have of patients taking care of themselves follows them throughout their lives, even after we have stopped active care. 
As much as we hope that our adjustments hold forever and our patients continue to feel better, the reality is that, inevitably, the body will need check-ups every so often. Life circumstances often arise that can cause your spine and other joints of the body to become stressed and thrown back out of alignment. 
It’s imperative to talk to your patients about the significance of regular spinal check-ups – just like they benefit when a dentist cleans their teeth or a mechanic changes the oil in their car. Regular chiropractic maintenance can help patients avoid major problems before they happen. Unfortunately today’s medical world has taught patients that they should only seek the care of a doctor when they are in pain. They don’t realize that healthcare providers can help them maintain a healthy lifestyle if they would take care of themselves and regularly visit a chiropractor.
Help Patients Do Homework 
We have to help patients take care of themselves through proper nutrition and exercise. This includes talking to them about their diet and how much exercise they do. You may feel like you are stepping across a line into their personal lives, but you are not. It’s your job to find out why they feel the way they do, just as if you were taking a clinical history or list of symptoms. Understanding how a person eats and whether exercise will tell you a lot about a patient’s health. 
If while talking to a patient you discover that she doesn’t like to exercise because she’s embarrassed to work out in front of others. This is when your job title may change from chiropractor to cheerleader. Educating your patients on the proper exercises will empower them to achieve their goals (core workouts for a new mother who wants her body back, etc.). Giving positive feedback with facts about their health is always a good place to start. 
Lifestyle Stress

Having an honest discussion about the physical effects of stress can go a long way toward helping a patient change his/her behavior.

Besides what they eat and how they work out, there is another important factor in deciding our patients’ health: lifestyle stress. Ask your patient about his day and how he likes his job? You will find out more than you might expect. You could discover that he is stressed over a work project that has been making him work long hours and causing stress at work and home. You will see that this stress will have an impact on his physical self. You can determine where he carries stress in his body and help correct that with an adjustment.
You can’t change someone’s personality. But you can make a difference by talking about the important link between stress and a patient’s health. Explain that being stressed causes physical problems that you can help to alleviate, but the only person who can control the stress is the patient. Having an honest discussion about the physical effects of stress can go a long way toward helping a patient change his/her behavior.
Why Can’t Chiropractic Last Longer?
One of the questions patients ask me is, “Why can’t you just put me back in alignment and it stay that way? Why do I have to come back every so often?” It’s clear what the answer is and how we can respond to our patients’ similar questions. The reason why chiropractic adjustments do not hold forever is because you go out and live your life. 
When you think about it, almost every single job or daily activity can have an effect on the alignment of the spine and extremities. Even though we encourage patients to exercise to stay healthy, it can cause stress on your body that needs to be addressed. The body reacts by moving out of alignment and your muscles spasm, which causes swelling, pain and discomfort to return. Does that mean patients shouldn’t exercise? No. Stress is a normal part of life; the point is that patients can do something to keep it from negatively affecting their body and their health!
Some patients are able to hold their adjustments longer than others. Certain patients may only come in for an annual check-up, because they exercise and do things that keep them strong. Other patients may come back every two weeks, because their daily routine is so physically demanding that they are thrown out of alignment quickly. It all depends on genetics, the commitment to home exercises, and lifestyle. You will work with your patients to discover the optimal frequency they should be for coming back to the office for spinal tune-ups.

Dr. Kevin Wong is an expert on foot analysis, walking and standing postures and orthotics. Teaching patients and chiropractors is a passion for him, and he travels the country speaking about spinal and extremity adjusting. Dr. Wong practices full-time in Orinda, California. Contact Dr. Wong at 925-254-4040 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Burst Training for Fast Fat Loss
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Written by Josh Axe, DC   
Monday, 25 February 2013 23:05
ost people who want to burn fat and lose weight assume going to the gym and doing traditional aerobic exercise like jogging on the treadmill is the best way to see results.  But recent research is proving long distance cardiovascular exercise is NOT the fastest way to burn fat and lose weight.  
bursttrainingIf you’ve been spending hours on the treadmill and not seeing any results, it’s because long distance cardiovascular exercise can decrease testosterone and raise your stress hormone levels like cortisol1. Increased levels of cortisol stimulate the appetite, increase fat storage, and slow down or inhibit exercise recovery.
A recent study in Psychoneuroendocrinology showed evidence of long-term high cortisol levels in aerobic endurance athletes.  Researchers tested levels of hair cortisol in 304 endurance athletes (runners, cyclists, and triathletes) and compared to non-athletes.  The results showed higher cortisol levels with higher training volumes 1. 
The Journal of Sports Sciences found that long periods of aerobic exercise increased oxidative stress leading to chronic inflammation2. 
If you want to see results fast without the negative benefits of cardiovascular exercise your best option is burst training3. Burst training (aka interval training) combines short, high intensity bursts of exercise, with slow, recovery phases, repeated during one exercise session.  Burst training is done at 85-100% maximum heart rate rather than 50-70% in moderate endurance activity.  
Similar exercise methods to burst training include High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and the Tabata method.
With burst and other types of interval training you are getting the same cardiovascular benefits as endurance exercise but without the negative side effects. 
Essentially, burst training is exercising like a sprinter rather than a marathon runner.
One of the major benefits of burst training is that it can be done in the comfort of your own home with no or minimal equipment.  An example of burst training would be going to a track and walking the curves and sprinting the straight aways.  Or getting on a spin bike and cycling hard for 20 seconds then going easy for 20 seconds then repeating that effort for between 5 to 40 minutes.
Burst (or interval) training isn’t necessarily new. Elite athletes and Olympians have known this secret to exercising and have been doing interval training for years. The research proves that anybody – not just elite athletes – can do interval training and achieve amazing results.
Research from the University of New South Wales Medical Sciences found that burst (interval) cardio could burn more than 3 times more body fat than moderate cardio. The researchers studied two groups and found that the group who did eight seconds of sprinting on a bike, followed by 12 seconds of exercising lightly for 20 minutes, lost THREE TIMES as much fat as other women, who exercised at a continuous, regular pace for 40 minutes 4.

The reason burst training works is because it produces a unique metabolic response in your body.

The reason burst training works is because it produces a unique metabolic response in your body. Intermittent sprinting causes your body to not burn as much fat during exercise but after exercise your metabolism stays elevated and will continue to burn fat for the next 24-48 hours!  
Also, chemicals called catecholamines are produced which allow more fat to be burned and this causes increased fat oxidation which drives greater weight loss. The women from the study lost the most weight off their legs and buttocks.
Another study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, April 2007, researched eight different women in their early 20’s. They were told to cycle for 10 sets of four minutes of hard riding, followed by two minutes of rest.
After two weeks, the amount of fat burned increased by 36 percent, and their cardiovascular fitness improved by 13 percent 5.
Key Benefits of Burst Training:
  • Can burn up to 3x more body-fat than moderate cardio
  • After two weeks of interval training, fat burning increased by 36%
  • Your body will continue to burn fat for the next 48 hours after you're done exercising
  • You can workout in less time and see better results
If you want an incredible burst training program to follow check out www.burstfit.com.
Dear Dr. Axe,

In the last 6 weeks I have lost 37 pounds. I have incorporated your exercise regimen with burst training. I’ve also been working on incorporating as much real food as I can in my diet. Lost 4 inches in my waist during these last 6 weeks. It has been so invigorating to do things properly and healthy and get super results! I’m a 5’9” male and six weeks ago I was 276 pounds, 47” waist. Today, I am 239 pounds with a 43” waist. Thanks for all the valid exercise and nutritional information! 
Jeremy H.
  1. Skoluda, N., Dettenborn, L., et al. Elevated Hair Cortisol Concentrations in Endurance Athletes. Psychoneuroendocrinology. September 2011. Published Ahead of Print.
  2. Packer, L. Oxidants, Antioxidant Nutrients, and the Athlete. Journal of Sports Science. June 1997. 15(3), 353-363.
  3. Marzatico, F., Pansarasa, O., et al. Blood Free Radical Antioxidant Enzymes and Lipid Peroxides Following Long-Distance and Lactacidemic Performances in Highly Trained and Aerobic and Sprint athletes. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 1997. 37, 235-239.
  4. M. Heydari, J. Freund, and S. H. Boutcher. Journal of Obesity Volume 2012, Article ID 480467.
  5. Talanian, JL. Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases capacity for fat oxidation. Journal of Applied Physiology April 2007.
Dr. Josh Axe is the author of the real food diet cookbook, popular radio show host, and founder of DrAxe.com and BurstFIT.com. His articles and videos are shared across the world and his mission is to help transform the health of this world. Dr. Axe graduated with his doctor of chiropractic degree from Palmer College in Florida.
New Insurance Paradigm? Aegis Insurance Solutions, Inc.
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Written by Michele Austin   
Friday, 25 January 2013 03:52
 funny thing happened at the office …
receptionistandpatientOne Florida afternoon I was doing my utmost to provide excellent service for the client sitting across from me.  I'd chided her for months, every time we met, about her ongoing reliance on Mayo Clinic doctors for health care that was costing her a fortune and wasn't doing any good.  Today I was pleased to learn that she was paying attention, finally. She'd been consulting a natural wellness practitioner whom I'd recommended and reported that she was noticing a difference.  I mentally patted my back.
BUT …  and there's always a but … because she was now going the alternative care route and incurring out of pocket cost, the question she posed to me that afternoon was “Is there an insurance plan that covers these treatments?”   I replied, “That is a very good question, my friend.  Let me check into it and get back to you.”
That was 1998.  The concept of insurance that covered alternative wellness care seemed brilliant.  I began an exhaustive search across the country and back, to find any insurer anywhere that would cover natural treatments for a diagnosed illness, beyond the usual minimal coverage for massage, chiropractic visits, and infrequent acupunture.
The result of my search?  Zilch !  Not even one insurance plan existed.  I found one union self-funded plan in California that covered more natural wellness modalities than insurance did, but you had to be a union worker living in California to participate.  My search came to a dead end.  And tremendous disappointment.  Why not, I wondered. Why didn't such a plan exist?
I  began formulating in my mind what an insurance plan should look like, if it were to cover natural and alternative health care treatments.  This came easier for me than it might have for an agent with a typical health insurance background, for two reasons:
1) One consequence of my going 'above and beyond' for clients was making enough ruckus to get the attention of people other than front line customer service stiffs, who answer the phones at Big Insurance.  I was tolerated by staff members involved in the meat – underwriting, actuary, claims, etc.  I ended up absorbing health insurance's inner workings.
2) I had a long time aversion to traditional western medicine and, at the time, a 17-year history of successfully self treating my own family's occasional illnesses via nutritional methods.
The two backgrounds gave me the basis for what was to become Aegis Insurance Solutions. As time passed, the idea became more than a daydream … I jotted notes whenever a brainchild manifested, and began organizing them.

Meanwhile, as the turn of the century arrived, I watched health insurance deteriorate from a once utile product into an increasingly unaffordable, increasingly gutted, barely recognizable shell of its original format. Premiums climbed at an alarming pace to keep up with skyrocketing claims experience.

Health care costs, escalating at 500% of normal inflation, threatened to bankrupt the country. Actuaries predicted that health care would gobble 1/5 of the country's entire GDP by the year 2013, if trends didn't change. Health care surprised even the actuaries by beating projections two full years, usurping one in every five dollars spent in the U.S. by the end of fiscal 2011. How is that even possible ?

Well, for starters, over the last decade traditional medical care providers have driven claims costs (translate insurance premiums) through the roof with outrageously priced, ineffective treatments. Add to that prescription drug prices which increase quarterly, since Congress lifted the ban on television drug advertising in the late 1990s.

Insurance companies fought hard to contain costs by eliminating covered services, increasing deductibles and co-pays, increasing premiums, etc. They got tough on network fee schedules and lost significant network provider membership as a result. Meantime, insurance premiums tripled anyway since 1998. And an ever increasing population (near 50 million at last count) goes uninsured. The national healthcare forcemeat, Obamacare, has zero power to tame the monster because it has zero provision for cost containment.

It became painfully evident that something had to be done to reverse health care trends because insurers were literally drowning in costs. Health insurance companies began jumping ship in droves at the turn of the century, realizing there was simply no way to be profitable anymore. And consumers suffered.

Compare consumer choices for health insurance today with the 1990s versions. Insurance agents in that era offered clients a selection of health plans from dozens of insurers. Competition was fierce to provide the best benefit package for the smallest price. Ten years later, the choice of insurers shrank to a half dozen. Benefits vanished, premiums grew unaffordable, employers dropped coverage. Yet Obamacare's solution is to compel people who can't afford coverage to buy it anyway, or pay a hefty penalty.

Believe it or not, insurance companies laid the ground work for today's disaster by unintentionally eliminating personal responsibility for health care decisions and spawning over-utilization of benefits. How on earth did they accomplish all that? By implementing plans in the mid 1980s that covered almost unlimited medical care for minimal co-pays.

One could logically ask how insurers could make a mistake with such profoundly disastrous consequences. It evolved almost overnight, due to fear. Cancer shock-loss claims were increasing at an alarming rate, with no upper end in sight. And despite new admonitions by the American Cancer Society about the importance of early detection via preventive screening, Average Jill refused to undergo screening because she had to pay for it. Insurers desperately needed a plan to encourage early diagnosis, to slow the avalanche of new cancer claims.

So insurers caved and came up with first dollar insurance coverage as incentive for obtaining preventive care. They couldn't have anticipated how quickly policyholders would develop a new mentality - “Why should I care how much my healthcare costs?” “I pay ten bucks for a doctor visit. Instead of buying Desitin for the baby's rash, I'll take her to a pediatrician and get a prescription.”

Insurers inadvertently created an insurance gremlin that mutated into a monster before they had the first inkling of the damage it would do. But that's just part of the story. Western healthcare practitioners are not without huge blame for the crisis that evolved. They have more than a decade of experience now, gouging insurance companies at every opportunity.

Example - doctors once required annual office visits to reauthorize a patient's prescription. But when insurance began first dollar coverage, doctors began requiring that patients show up quarterly to get the same prescription reauthorized. After all, the patient had little out of pocket cost - no sweat off his back!

Some doctors identified opportunities to become real estage magnates at the expense of insurers (translate–premium dollars paid by you and me.) They erected labs and free-standing surgical facilities, rather than rent privileges at the local hospital, because they could bill insurance to cover the new mortgages while increasing their net worth. Doctors began ordering endless streams of unecessary tests and performing unnecessary surgeries to generate fees, since patients didn't have to pay. Buildings got built while dollars poured into coffers like water roaring over a dam.

Because I believe that a higher standard of ethics exists in the natural wellness arena of the healthcare universe, it was a surprise to watch even wellness practitioners make an occasional grab for a slice of the new insurance pie. My own massage therapist charged self-pay clients $65 per hour and historically refused to accept insurance. But now she decided to accept insurance because she could bill $150 for people injured in vehicle accidents - providing the exact therapy I received at $65 per hour. During one visit, she bragged about her newfound wealth.

Make no mistake, I understand a fair charge to cover the cost of generating a bill. Billing and waiting for payment costs money. But charging 130% over the fee for cash clients isn't fair. After seven years of routine therapy, I was suddenly compelled to find a new massage therapist.

A local chiropractor charges cash patients $35-$65 per (follow-up) adjustment visit, based on ability to pay - admirable. But he bills insurance $120 for the same visit – not admirable, not fair, not ethical. That drives up the price of MY health insurance.

Recently I stumbled into an insurer's worst nightmare. I used a Groupon to try a local massage therapist for the first time. Massage therapy is so beneficial I've opted to self pay for routine visits the past fifteen years. In addition to monthly visits, I make a point to obtain treatment from new therapists often, especially when traveling. It keeps my neck and shoulders from tightening up, after dozing in uncomfortable seats hours on end. (Thai massage is best so far!)

Hospitals bill insurance 300-500% over actual cost of providing care and, for some services, even 1000% mark-up.

After my massage therapy was complete (excellent work), I considered scheduling another round. The desk clerk inquired if I'd had massage therapy before. I replied, “hundreds of times.” She asked if had insurance she could bill. I informed her there was nothing wrong with me - no diagnosis. She then lowered her voice to inform me that the doctor could create a diagnosis. I could come in for more frequent massages, paid by insurance. I was astounded.

Not only did she encourage me to cheat my insurer by submitting a fraudulent claim. She was clueless as to the fact that ANY diagnosis affects my future insurability for years, and maybe even permanently. Not just health insurance, but disability income insurance, life insurance, long term care insurance, etc. She could do me lasting harm by falsifying a diagnosis.

Astonishment gave way to disgust. I held my tongue and left, but I won't go back. Note to self – that practitioner will not be part of the Aegis provider network.

I've related how so many allopathic practitioners and even some natural wellness practitioners contributed to today's crisis in U.S. health insurance. But when we examine the contribution from privately owned hospitals, we discover they are greedier - by light years - than any individual practitioner. Hospitals bill insurance 300-500% over actual cost of providing care and, for some services, even 1000% mark-up. Consider too that these are supposedly not-for-profit organizations !

The federal government allows hospitals 4-5% over cost under existing national health care (Medicare). Medicare determined that a not-for profit entity can cover cost and make a reasonable profit at that reimbursement schedule. Yet, in fiscal 2005-06, a group of seven U.S. catholic hospital systems in the southwest netted a profit of over $2 billion (and all in the name of Christ). No income taxes due, no sales taxes due, no property taxes due – zero taxes on two billion dollars. Hospitals more than make up for stingy government pay schedules by gouging private insurance. And they laugh all the way to the bank, while your insurance premiums spiral and your benefits shrink.

After nearly 20 years of battling the monster that insurers birthed with first dollar coverage plans in the mid 1980s, health insurance companies are still at a loss as to how to even begin to bring it under control, much less how to reverse damage done. They're fresh out of ideas and have no clue what to do next.

Aegis does! And ironically, the solution is first dollar coverage! Sound ludicrous? It isn't, when you know what we know. The ONLY solution to greed in traditional health care, to outlandish insurance premiums, to a shrinking selection of insurance plans, is a first dollar insurance plan which promotes natural wellness and alternative treatment. It's so simple it's brilliant - the ONLY way to fix the mess is to facilitate good health.

Why does that work? Because making someone well brings an end to insurance claims. Claims become finite, rather than chronic, lifelong, and increasingly expensive.

A good side effect – because natural wellness is nondestructive, the body suffers no damage. Thus it averts potential additional costs associated with treatment of bad side effects that often result from dangerous allopathic methods. Even the most oblivious insurance underwriter understands that if you heal a man, instead of just treating him, you put a finite dollar amount on that man's claim, which eventually results in reduced insurance premiums.

Increasing numbers of enlightened patients today prefer treatment with more effective alternative methods, but insurance won't pay. When patients can't afford self-pay, what are their options? None. They revert back to traditional care that insurance WILL pay for. So by refusing to pay for alternative natural treatments, traditional insurance perpetuates the problem it desperately wants to resolve. More doctor visits, more tests, more procedures, more drugs, more side effects – same routine, same results. People remain ill … claims experience continues to accelerate.

Health insurers not only can't fix it – they exacerbate the dilemma of spiraling claims experience by encouraging over-utilization through faulty plan design. With the health insurance crisis becoming an unbearable burden on the financial resources of this country, our alternative insurance plan is the only logical, viable, long term solution. Our plan solves ALL current problems in health insurance:

First, we don't accept bills from practitioners. Every insured pays for his care at time of service, and then submits his own claim for reimbursement. Thus we eliminate the need for our provider members to hire staff to track insurance billing and make it possible for them to charge a universal fair fee for service rendered. Requiring patient payment for service also restores personal responsibility for the cost of the patient's health care, by making him aware that there is a price for unwellness - that there is indeed a correlation between his personal financial health and his lifestyle choices.

Second, we don't negotiate fees with our network providers, making membership in our network desirable. This creates excellent choices for our insured members when they need care. We prefer a network replete with the best practitioners, so insureds have access to the very best wellness care. When you're the best, you're worth what you charge. Your patient/client gets well – our customer's claims costs are finite.

Third, we make it financially appealing for our insured members to seek natural wellness instead of consulting traditional practitioners because we want them to get well – not to be in treatment. Because we make it inexpensive for members to obtain natural care and (very) expensive for them to obtain allopathic care, we control the cost of care. In the end, reduced cost always means lower premiums.

Fourth, in the employer group health arena, we actually refund large chunks of premium at the end of a plan's fiscal year to insured employers whose group health plan design encourages employee wellness. Their claims costs are dramatically lower than employers who fail to differentiate between traditional care and natural treatments. So we offer handsome rewards to employers who help improve the bottom line.

Until now, Aegis has offered coverage only to employer groups. But the winds of change are blowing. In the near future we'll introduce an individual insurance plan in most states, which covers the full spectrum of natural and alternative treatments. Of course we include coverage for traditional care when it's required. If you fall off your bike and break your arm, we wouldn't penalize you for practicing healthy living.

Michele Austin attended Daytona State College, graduating with a degree in Liberal Arts in Communications.  In 1992 she established a life/health insurance and financial services agency with a focus on health insurance, occupying that post as  President/CEO until 2007.  In 2007 she began fine tuning what she perceives to be the only viable solution to the U.S. health insurance crisis, which since, has been revolutionizing both the health insurance and health care industries across the U.S..  The result has been  dramatically and permanently reduced health insurance premiums for policy holders.

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