Naturopathy in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire House recently had before it a measure to require health insurers to cover patients using naturopaths as primary physicians. (I don’t know how NH defines naturopaths, but in Maine they are not physicians.) The NH House did not pass that measure, though they have passed something which isn’t much better:

Instead, the requirement will be limited to the individual market, where people already had the option to use a naturopath, since consumers in that market pay a percentage of the cost of each visit, unlike an HMO-type system in which a physician acts as a gatekeeper to prevent the over-utilization of specialists…

Committee Chair Rep. John Hunt, R-Rindge, said insurers are upset because under current contracts, physicians are supposed to be able to refer patients to a specialist, not naturopaths.

Rep. Donna Schlachman, D-Exeter, argued that it was good public policy not to discriminate. Besides, she said, naturopaths are less likely to refer patients to specialists, meaning lower costs.

What’s really unfortunate here is that Schlachman does not understand the reason naturopaths are less likely to refer patients to specialists: they do not have the requisite knowledge needed to make a proper determination for what the best course of medical action is for an individual. Go take a look at the few accredited naturopathic schools around the country – the course loads include a bunch of homeopathy, acupuncture, something known as cupping, and other forms of malarkey. Hardly any of it is science. People would be better offer finding a first semester pre-med student than going to a naturopath. (The same goes for people who seek any form of alternative medicine. After all, if it was medicine, it would just be called that: medicine.)

The end result of this measure in NH will be less cost for insurers, more business for naturopaths, and less health for consumers. It’s a bad deal.