Extended Health Benefits

There is no question that in the long run it is more cost effective to prevent illness than to treat it once it happens. It is also more cost effective to use the least invasive procedures and focus on natural healing therapies. However, working preventatively, using the least invasive techniques, and focusing on natural treatments still costs money. I often hear from people that they are not sure if they can afford to see a Naturopathic Doctor or other health care practitioner not covered under the medical services plan because it may be too expensive. In this week’s column I will focus on extended health care benefits and discuss how you may be able to utilize these benefits to cover some of your naturopathic medical needs.

Many people are unaware they have some financial coverage for naturopathic medical services through their extended health care benefits with their employer or other insurance provider. If you work in a company or business with more than 10 employees you almost certainly have some form of coverage. Many smaller businesses also have coverage. Most extended benefit plans will in part cover medical care services like dentistry, chiropractic, massage, physiotherapy, orthotics, and eye care. Unfortunately, far too many employees are unaware of the exact coverage they have.

If you are self employed you may still have benefits through your insurance provider. Many insurance plans don’t just cover employees but cover the owner as well. If your insurance plan does not cover extended medical expenses you may have the ability to deduct some naturopathic and other medical expenses from your income tax. If you are uninsured and currently don’t utilize medical expenses against your taxable income I recommend you discuss your options with your insurance agent or financial planner.

I was inspired to write this article in part because of an insurance agent I recently spoke with. His job is to put extended benefit plans together for corporations and small businesses. He showed me some very interesting conclusions from the insurance industry review that I’d like to share with you.

  1. The most costly part of any extended health benefit plan is pharmaceutical prescription costs. Pharmaceutical costs are continuing to rise due to the aging workforce and most companies want to reduce this cost by promoting therapies that reduce prescription needs.
  2. Currently, the most utilized service after pharmaceuticals is massage followed closely by physiotherapy then chiropractics. However, these services are mostly utilized after an injury or illness instead of preventatively.
  3. Naturopathic healthcare is the least utilized service in the industry in large part due to the fact that people covered in the plan are unaware that naturopathic healthcare has some coverage.
  4. Preventative medical services like naturopathic healthcare help improve productivity and job satisfaction and actually save companies money over time.
  5. The corporations and businesses that are most attractive to potential employees tend to have the most valuable and flexible extended health benefit plans. Most employees would rather have the health coverage in these plans than the equivalent cash value.


Extended health care benefits are often overlooked by insured individuals. I encourage you to contact your provider and investigate your coverage. Many plans have some financial coverage not just for naturopathic healthcare but many other medical services like orthotics, dentistry, and eye care. Most plans operate on a calendar year from Jan 1st to Dec 31st. Therefore, for many people there is only about two months left to utilize your 2012 benefits before they refresh for 2013.

Better utilizing your entitled benefits may go a long way to improve your health and quality of life. Extended benefits are part of your financial compensation and they were put together for employees to utilize them. If you have any doubts about utilizing your benefits remember that both you and your employer benefit from a healthier you.

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About the Author

Dr. Brent Barlow is a Naturopathic Physician practicing at The Kelowna Wellness Clinic in downtown Kelowna. Dr. Barlow has been in practice in Kelowna since graduating from the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in Vancouver in 2009.

Naturopathic Doctors are trained as primary care physicians, and primarily use natural medicine to treat disease and promote wellness. Dr. Barlow believes strongly in identifying and treating the causes of disease rather than focusing on the treatment of symptoms.

Naturopathic medicine utilizes diet therapy, botanical medicine, nutritional supplementation, acupuncture, spinal manipulation and other physical medicine treatments to treat the causes of disease. Dr. Barlow also trained in the specialized treatments of prolotherapy, neural therapy, intravenous nutrient infusions, and chelation therapy.

Dr. Barlow is in general practice and welcomes all individuals and families. As a naturopathic physician he is trained to treat all health conditions in the manner that best suits the goals of each individual patient. He also has special interests in natural treatments for pain management and digestive health.

To learn more about Dr. Barlow's treatments or to schedule a consultation, visit his website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com or call 250-448-5610.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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