Last summer, a landmark study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. It found that naturopathic medicine reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease when added to conventional medical care. In the study, the group that received naturopathic care saw its incidence of metabolic syndrome fall nearly 50%, and their likelihood of suffering a cardiovascular event (a fancy word meaning heart attack, stroke, clot, or other issue) was about a third lower than the group that received only conventional care. To put this in plain English, Naturopathic Medicine makes people healthier and saves lives.
However, the study authors weren't done there. In addition to investigating the healthcare benefit, the authors wanted to answer the question: Does naturopathic medicine save money?
Specifically, the researchers were asking this question: If an employer invests in naturopathic medicine, do they see a return on their investment? To find out, the full cost of the naturopathic program was assessed, and this was then compared against total per employee healthcare spending and differences in employee productivity.
The results were published recently, and they are clear: Employers who invest in naturopathic medical care for their employees see significant healthcare cost savings, as well as increases in productivity. You can read the exact figures in the article itself, but the rough findings were that naturopathic care helped employers save about $1000 dollars per employee in healthcare costs, and that those employees were more productive, to the tune of about $1400 per year. As a per-employee benefit, that's notable, and it scales up very quickly into even more significant cost savings in a large company.
While this is only one study, it does accord with earlier unpublished findings that naturopathic medicine reduced healthcare costs and improved productivity at the Vermont Auto Dealers' Association (VADA). The findings were so significant in Vermont, in fact, that the VADA changed its position on insurance coverage for naturopathic services, and helped Vermont to pass legislation that mandated insurance coverage for naturopathic care.
Whether the new study will push insurance coverage in any states is not clear, but in any case, employers should strongly consider providing naturopathic care to their employees, not only to help their employees live healthier lives, but to save money as well. I'm even imagining a slogan: Go Green To Save Green With Naturopathic Medicine.
Let's get out there and make this happen.