Michigan employers can now directly purchase
complementary health care benefits from a specialty benefits health
insurance company, making popular health care options such as
acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic and manual manipulation, and
dietetic counseling available to their workforce as part of a total
health benefits program.
These new benefit
programs are available to Michigan businesses with 51 or more employees
through American Specialty Health Insurance Company (ASH Insurance), a
subsidiary of American Specialty Health, Inc. (ASH).
"Consumers have been pressuring employers and
lawmakers to make complementary and alternative health insurance
coverage available for some time," said Flint chiropractor Dr. Matthew
Faris, who participates in the ASH provider network. "Without this
coverage, consumers are forced to pay out the entire amount themselves."
According to the latest study on complementary benefits, such
out-of-pocket expenditures reached $27 billion in 1997 alone. With the
increased use of alternative therapies since then, that figure most
likely is now much higher.
Studies show that there was a 47 percent increase in
total consumer visits to complementary health care providers between
1990 and 1997, exceeding the number of visits to U.S. primary care
Michigan employees who participate in the ASH plan can
access a Michigan network of more than 200 contracted providers.
Furthermore, when participants are traveling, they have in-network
access to a national provider network of more than 22,000 contracted
acupuncturists, chiropractors, dietitians, massage therapists, medical
doctors and osteopathic physicians.