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Leading Medical Organizations Urge Insurance for Non-Pharma/Integrative Pain Care

Non-Pharma Integrative Care | ABOIMIn March 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had a public comment period on its Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. For years, prescribing a variety of pain killers has been standard practice for managing chronic pain, and there’s no denying the efficacy of this treatment in certain instances. However, opioid addiction is a serious issue in the United States and there is a strong call for more non-pharmacological treatments as an alternative to opioids when possible. The CDC guidelines merely serve to “[improve] the way opioids are prescribed through clinical practice guidelines [to] ensure patients have access to safer, more effective chronic pain treatment.” However, one of the most compelling outcomes of this public comment period was the rising tide of leading medical organizations that began to call for an expansion of insurance coverage for treatments other than traditional pharmaceuticals.

One of the challenges that patients who suffer from chronic pain currently face is that the treatments covered by insurance remain relatively limited in scope. While compelling evidence suggests that complementary and alternative medicine may prove to be a viable – and non-habit-forming – option for those with chronic conditions, many patients are unable to take advantage of these forms of treatment because of a gap in their insurance coverage.

As the Medical Board of California (MBC) explains, this is particularly frustrating when the CDC’s own guidelines indicate that “many non-pharmacologic modalities are effective for the treatment/control of chronic pain,” but “the [draft] Guidelines fail to address the fact that many patients do not have access to these modalities, due to lack of insurance coverage or low availability.”

In short, insurance groups are strongly encouraged to expand their coverage umbrella to not only incentivize the use of pharmaceuticals but also acupuncture, massage therapy, osteopathic manipulation, yoga, and a variety of other proven treatments successfully utilized by Integrative Medicine physicians across the country.

At the American Board of Physician Specialties®, we developed the nation’s first Member Board dedicated to providing standardized board certification in Integrative Medicine, known as the American Board of Integrative Medicine® (ABOIM). Our Diplomates are leading voices in Integrative Medicine who specialize in helping their patients achieve optimal health through any and all means available, including complementary and alternative medicine.

To learn more about the ABOIM or the ABPS, contact us today.