Having recently read the March 4th Special Report edition of TIME Magazine, “Why Medical Bills are Killing Us” by Steven Brill, I see the issue from a different perspective. Clearly, the problem is far larger than most of us would like to think.

Underlying it all are two concerns:

Main Street is broken in terms of health and wellness (consider our high obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer statistics), and we wait until we are really sick to see a doctor or go to the hospital.

Wall Street and big business are broken in terms of making choices that balance short-term results and long-term consequences (consider the recent economic meltdown).

Our health care system is where Main Street and Wall Street meet, in one broken complex organism considering that the places most Americans go for health-related care are tied up in procedures that don’t necessarily help and pricing that will leave you desperately in debt even if they do.

Have we given responsibility for ourselves over to others, such as the corporations that care more about top-level salaries than the human element of health care?

When I share with people that I run The Holistic Chamber of Commerce, I often hear things like, “Those things aren’t covered by my insurance” or “I’m not insured and I can’t afford it.”

First, do you really want your insurance company to be responsible for your health? Do you really think they care? They actually make more money as long as we keep buying into the system as it currently is.

Second, you probably can afford it and I’ll be writing that article later this week…

Dr. Sherrie Reimers, N.D, points out that, “For as long as we have been human, we have had healers in our midst. Whether it was a shaman, a monk, or the woman down the street that grew herbs, there was always someone in our own neighborhood or community that knew us, cared about us, and healed us. These healers had a calling, a gift, a commitment. It was about helping people.”

Throughout time, healers have looked beyond the pain, and today’s alternative health care professionals continue in the age old tradition by taking a comprehensive approach. Today’s non-allopathic specialists, including naturopaths, homeopaths and acupuncturists, treat the patient holistically, rather than focusing on a symptom. The healer does not follow the band-aid approach, but often takes into consideration the patient’s family, habits and personality traits.

Today’s healers tend to be highly qualified practitioners with hundreds of hours of education and experience under their belt. Many are licensed, and some, have their equivalent of an M.D. after studying five years or more at institutes of higher learning.

The 800+ members of The Holistic Chamber of Commerce, for example, are all reference-checked professionals who strive to keep their clients healthy using a wide array of techniques. The commonality is that all are of natural means, and a whole-person approach to wellness.

We recognize that health and wellness includes eating and exercise habits, and also is related to the stress of living in today’s world. We recognize that there are healthier ways of healing, living AND doing business. We recognize that integrity, values and professionalism are important in helping others to heal.

Many of our Professional Members combine natural products and services with traditional Western allopathic medicine for what is known as complementary medicine, so that patients may benefit from the best of both worlds.

This Time article focuses on the economics and some of the legal issues impacting today’s healthcare system. It clearly documents the problems and suggests a few beginning solutions based on the current foundation.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t touch on our personal responsibility. The healthiest people I know don’t ask if something is covered by insurance. They are drinking water, eating fruits and vegetables, and seeing a Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, Naturopath or Massage Therapist to maintain their health.

If Complementary and Alternative Medicine is getting and keeping the population healthy, the business of hospitals, pharmaceutical corporations, insurance companies and even Medicare will suffer.

No one can deny that the costs associated with "being sick" can and often do bankrupt families, especially after we see it so clearly laid out in this article.

However, "getting and staying healthy," using preventative options (i.e. nutrition) is considerably more effective, in both monetary and emotional cost.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine is also likely to be safer. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) documents an increase in death and injuries due to overdoses from prescription medication. Many more were given additional prescription medications to undo damage done from others. This is the price we pay to follow allopathic medicine.

On the other side of the scale, there are no fatalities as a result of hypnotherapy, massage therapy, following nutritional advice, or drinking herbal teas.

Gentle healing energy work, massage therapy, nutritional and herbal guidance, and supplements are some examples of what have proven to be extremely effective ways to achieve optimum health. Some practices, such as Ayurveda or acupuncture, have been the treatment of choice in some societies for thousands of years.

Fortunately, we now have an organization designed to advance the cause of access to quality holistic and natural health care options.