HMOs: Health Plans Venture into ‘Spiritual’ Therapies
Health plans are increasingly covering low-cost therapies designed to boost patient satisfaction, USA Today reports. A Denver-based HMO now offers spiritual counseling visits for $10 each. Blue Shield of California has introduced free audiotapes for patients facing surgery to alleviate their concerns and "promote healing." Blue Shield anticipates reaching between 5,000 and 7,000 patients annually with the surgery tapes, which guide listeners through the surgery process, allowing them to imagine that they are undergoing a positive, healing surgical experience. Research has shown that these alternative therapies achieve as faster healing and cost savings. A study at the University of California-Davis found that patients who used the tapes bled less during surgery and "left the hospital 28 hours sooner than patients who had not." However, critics of alternative medicine are not convinced. "The health plans are just trying to create a mirage to make patients forget they've been deserted," Jamie Court of Consumers for Quality Care, said (Appleby, 5/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.