There are many aspects of care to consider when selecting a new practitioner. So often we select someone based on finding someone who is taking new patients and accepts our insurance because the healthcare system is set up to funnel us into a provider that meets our insurance expectations. Depending on where you live and the quality of your health insurance, you may or may not hope to have your visit to a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) covered by your insurance. Because NDs aren’t always covered by health insurance and often work independently, they have more options in where and how they practice. This is a huge benefit for patients who take the time to find the right naturopathic doctor for them. This week we will cover some of the basic aspects of finding your perfect practitioner by discussing how you can assure they have the credentials you will want, understanding if your insurance will cover your care and how to find someone who is close enough to where you live to provide you the care you need.
When you look for a provider, it is important to find a licensed Naturopathic Doctor who was educated at a Council for Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) accredited school. Those schools include; Bastyr University, Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, National University of Health Sciences, National University of Natural Medicine, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences, Universidad Ana G. Mendez, and University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine.
It is important to select a licensed Naturopathic Doctor because some states or provinces do not regulate naturopathic medicine, making it possible for anyone to claim to be a naturopath or even a naturopathic doctor. A licensed Naturopathic Doctor has four years of post-baccalaureate medical training that includes clinical education. The education includes coursework in biomedical sciences and clinical training has a strong emphasis on evidence-based medicine. In addition, naturopathic medical schools provide training to future doctors in nutrition, lifestyle counseling, the human microbiome, treatment of both acute and chronic illness, and most medical conditions. Naturopathic doctors learn about botanical medicine and pharmaceuticals making them highly adept at understanding any interactions that your supplements and prescriptions may have. It also gives them excellent skills in helping you reduce or end your use of prescription medications if it is medically warranted.
If you want your insurance to cover the cost of your visit to a Naturopathic Doctor then you will have to check your insurance plan and ask the ND you hope to see. Some Naturopathic Doctors are fully empaneled by health insurance providers as either primary care doctors or specialists. The ND’s office will be able to tell you if your insurance is one of the carriers that they accept and if the doctor is in-network or out of network. You will want to assure that you understand any co-pays and the % of the cost that is covered by your insurance. In addition, you will want to know if your health insurance provider has a limit to the number of ND visits, they allow per year so you can plan appointments carefully.
Some Naturopathic Doctors who are not emplaned by health insurance providers are willing to provide a billing statement that will help you seek reimbursement from your health insurance provider. Other NDs do not accept health insurance or work with insurance companies in any way, they accept payment at the time of service. Knowing how your ND works with insurance providers before you go to an appointment will help you plan for how to pay for any cost out of pocket.
Depending on where you live and how specialized your health needs are, you may be able to find a Naturopathic Doctor that is close to your house or work. If you live in an area with few or no ND’s or you need someone who is highly specialized you may need to travel to another, city or state to find the right care for you. The availability of state licensure and health insurance empaneling can have a significant impact on how many NDs practice in a given area.
NDSearch https://ndsearch.org/ was created to make it easier for patients to find the right Naturopathic Doctor. You can enter a distance you are willing to travel, any modalities or specialization (we will talk about these next week) you are looking for in a doctor and NDSearch will return all of the licensed Naturopathic Doctors who fit your parameters. We do not charge doctors for their listing so we have most NDs in the US and many in Canada, as part of our easily searchable system.