Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • January 2010
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Ask Nature's Pathways — June 2018

“Why doesn’t my health insurance cover alternative providers, like chiropractic? Is there anything I can do to change this?”

—Dan S., Omro

Great questions, Dan! Alternative providers can be more effective at a lower cost, so it raises the question why insurance companies often do not cover their services. One reason is cost. If insurance covered more services, your monthly premium would go up, just like if your auto insurance covered oil changes and new tires. The other reason is changing the status quo is hard to do.

One way to gain flexibility is to use health savings account (HSA) plans that allow you or your employer to put money in a tax-advantaged HSA account, that you can use to purchase alternative care. A single person can deposit up to $3,450/year, and a family up to $6,850/year. If you have Medicare, an MSA plan is another good option where you receive $2,000 or more per year that you can use for alternative care. For both HSAs and MSAs, if you do not spend it, the money rolls over each year.I also recommend shopping for your health care to make sure you are paying the best price for the best care. Ask about the cost for paying directly compared to using your health insurance plan. Don’t pay a $10 co-pay at the pharmacy counter when the medicine only costs $4.

—John Ulness, Ulness Health Insurance & Wellness •

“I’m taking over-the-counter thyroid supplements because I think my thyroid is slow but I’m not sure. Could this harm me?”

—Dana T., Appleton

Thank you for the question, Dana. First of all, if you think your thyroid is slow we are talking about hypothyroidism. Let’s say for the moment that your thyroid is fine and you take thyroid supplements. What can happen? The supplement would most likely contain a glandular, thyroid gland from an animal to provide you with active thyroid hormone (T3). If the amount of glandular in the supplement is significant enough, it can lead to heart palpitations. The boxer, Mohammad Ali, lost his second to last fight because he was given thyroid hormone. He lost fat, muscle and his heart rate was elevated. While Mohammad Ali’s experience involved stronger medications than supplements, he did not have hypothyroidism and so it didn’t take much to elevate the thyroid hormone above what the body can tolerate. Thyroid supplements on an individual with no thyroid problems cause the same outcome.

Another consideration is the supplement would most likely also contain a source of iodine or iodide. It is worth noting that every time researchers have given iodine to people in third world nations to help with thyroid function, there was an outbreak of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune condition of the thyroid.

I applaud you for your proactive efforts to get well. In this case it would be better to have additional information for you to know if the supplement is helpful or actually harmful in order to avoid additional problems. I hope you find this clinical perspective helpful and your question is answered.*

—Dr. Scott Vander Wielen, Vander Wielen Health & Wellness •

The above content is not medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of information you read in this column. Nature’s Pathways Magazine does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions or other information that may be mentioned.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, please call your doctor, go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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