What comprises good health and how to maintain it can sometimes add up to a fuzzy picture for many of us. A growing number of studies point to the ineffectiveness and inappropriate use of drugs, while over-diagnosis and over-treatment by physicians continue to be a concern.
Then there’s the ongoing dialogue about the lifestyle choices we make – the impact of food choices and the value of exercise. But even in these areas, health journals issue a word of caution – individual results are dependent upon personal characteristics and don’t necessarily correspond to research findings.
As individuals create health habits that help them become more accountable for their own health decisions, mandated health insurance policies should provide benefits to cover the services that individuals use to support their health. Many newer studies are indicating that more holistic views and practices enhance the health of those who choose them. Among these holistic views are alternative therapies, which include meditation and prayer. According to author Cara Santa Maria, “An overwhelming 83 percent of Americans say that God answers prayers…”
Yet, even as more of the public see spirituality and prayer as effective in helping individuals maintain their health, researchers remind us that the beneficial effect of prayer/spirituality isn’t confined to churchgoers. Many believe that health care providers should take advantage of this correlation between health and spirituality by tailoring treatments and rehabilitation programs to accommodate the spiritual beliefs of the people being treated.
With more holistic treatments offered by health care providers, more patients likely will take advantage of these treatments – an idea echoed by Dr. Michael J. Barry, MD, who believes patients are ready to hear the message of shared decision making, less treatment, and the inclusion of spirituality.
Although adding spiritual care services like meditation and prayer to an insurer’s list of covered benefits will not, in and of itself, turn our current disease care system into a bona fide health care system, it is a step in the right direction – a step that much of the public desires, that could save money, and that could have a very real impact on the health of our state and our nation.
If nothing else, it could give focus to a pretty fuzzy picture of how to obtain health through the nation’s new and untried health care system, which at present is still deciding what treatment options to offer.
© GLOW IMAGES. Model used for illustrative purposes