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Health Insurance Off the Grid

Health Insurance
Off the Grid
A Wonderful Way To Use
Alternative Medicine
and Save Money on Insurance
with the New
Health Savings Account (HSA)

Daryl Kulak
Second Edition

Health Insurance Off the Grid

I dedicate this book to my late mother-in-law, Katie

Oakley, who through her illness, suffering and
treatment was able to show me the problems with our
Western medical system and insurance.

Health Insurance Off the Grid
Table of Contents
DEFINITIONS ..................................................................................................................7
THE PROBLEMS .................................................................................................................... 8
We Hate Our Health Insurers........................................................................................ 8
Doctors on Strike?.......................................................................................................... 8
Americans Go Uninsured When They Go Unemployed................................................ 9
Health Insurance Rates Rise Dramatically................................................................... 9
Comparing the Inflation Rate to Increases in Health Insurance Costs ..................... 10
Medical Doctors are “Opting Out” ............................................................................ 11
All This Money Isn’t Buying Better Care .................................................................... 12
Preventive Care Still Isn’t Part of the Health Insurance Picture .............................. 13
Controlled Studies Give Us Inconclusive Results....................................................... 14
Our Leaders Aren’t Even Asking the Right Questions ............................................... 15
Druggies For Life......................................................................................................... 17
Antibiotics Are Bringing Back the Plagues! ............................................................... 17
The Right Drug in the Right Dosage Kills 100,000 a Year ........................................ 18
WHO’S TO BLAME?............................................................................................................ 18
WOULDN’T THAT LOOK GREAT ON A PROTEST SIGN?..................................................... 18
WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND…D’OH! ....................................................................... 20
WHAT SHOULD WE DO? ................................................................................................... 23
Fixing Healthcare Nationally ...................................................................................... 23
Fixing Healthcare Personally...................................................................................... 25
THE PLAN IN BRIEF ............................................................................................................ 27
Goals............................................................................................................................. 28
Steps.............................................................................................................................. 29
WITHOUT OVERPAYING ..........................................................................................30
THE HIGH-DEDUCTIBLE RESPONSE TO INSANITY ............................................................ 32
POLICY RIDERS .................................................................................................................. 42
EXPENSES AND SAVE ON TAXES...........................................................................45
BE YOUR OWN INSURANCE COMPANY – FOR THE SMALL STUFF ................................... 47

Health Insurance Off the Grid
USE, SNOOZE, BUT YOU WON’T LOSE IT ......................................................................... 48
WHERE TO GET IT?............................................................................................................ 49
HSA DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS ................................................................................... 50
TO PAY FOR HOLISTIC HEALTH SERVICES .....................................................54
CAN YOU BE DISCIPLINED? .............................................................................................. 55
VITAMINS AND VISION .............................................................................................57
DENTAL AND VISION ......................................................................................................... 57
VITAMINS, HERBS, DRUGS, HEARING AIDS, HOLISTIC SERVICES................................... 58
THE DECLINE OF DISCOUNT CARDS.................................................................................. 59
CAN TRUST ....................................................................................................................62
THE HIGH-DEDUCTIBLE DISCOUNT .................................................................................. 64
THE FAMILY PRACTITIONER.............................................................................................. 67
THE REST OF THE NETWORK ............................................................................................. 70
SO YOU WANNA STICK WITH WESTERN MEDICINE? ....................................................... 73
Choose a Caring MD ................................................................................................... 73
Home Remedies For the Little Things......................................................................... 74
SO YOU WANNA GO HOLISTIC?........................................................................................ 75
Definition of Holistic Health........................................................................................ 75
Accept Responsibility for Your Own Health ............................................................... 78
Safest, Cheapest Appropriate Remedy First ............................................................... 79
Do Your Own Health Research ................................................................................... 81
Acknowledge Mind-Body-Spirit Interactions.............................................................. 82
Be Open-Minded .......................................................................................................... 84
Emphasize Prevention.................................................................................................. 87
Understanding the Difference Between Healing and Curing..................................... 88
SYMPTOM/SYNDROME/TONIC IN WESTERN MEDICINE .................................................... 90
SYMPTOM/CAUSE/THERAPY IN HOLISTIC MEDICINE ....................................................... 90
ANCIENT CARE IS THE BEST CARE .................................................................................... 92
WESTERN MEDICINE’S BIG EXCUSE FOR NOT GOING HOLISTIC ..................................... 93
THE HOLISTIC HEALTH PRACTICES .................................................................................. 95
Holistic Practices ......................................................................................................... 96
SIX EASY SYSTEMS .......................................................................................................... 113

Health Insurance Off the Grid
Naturopathic System .................................................................................................. 113
Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) System............................................................. 115
Ayurvedic System........................................................................................................ 117
Structural System........................................................................................................ 119
Energetic System ........................................................................................................ 120
Western Medical System ............................................................................................ 121
HOLISTIC HEALTHCARE FOR CHRISTIANS ...................................................................... 122
Evaluating Practitioners as a Christian.................................................................... 124
Differences Between Religion and Spirituality ......................................................... 125
Mind and Body – Really Separate? ........................................................................... 126
ILLNESS ........................................................................................................................130
YOUR LIFE...................................................................................................................139
YEARLY THEMES ............................................................................................................. 139
A WORD TO HOLISTIC HEALTH PRACTITIONERS ......................................141
CONCLUSIONS ...........................................................................................................143
APPENDIX A – REFERENCES.................................................................................144
APPENDIX B – FORMS AND SAMPLES ...............................................................155
MONTHLY PLAN TEMPLATES .......................................................................................... 156
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ..............................................................................................163

Health Insurance Off the Grid


deductible – the minimum threshold payment that must be made

by the enrollee each year before the plan begins to make payments

co-insurance – a payment sharing arrangement between the

insurance company and patient, usually a percentage (20%) paid
by the patient after the deductible has been reached

co-payment – a payment sharing arrangement between the

insurance company and patient, usually a certain dollar amount
($25) per visit whether or not the deductible has been reached

office visit rider – addition to premium for primary care office

setting that involves examination of, or education and discussion
with, the patient

premium – amount of money that is paid to a health plan by an

enrollee (or employer) in exchange for providing healthcare
benefits (and claims processing)

(from The Managed Health Care Dictionary, 2nd Edition – Richard

Rognehaugh (Aspen, 1998))

Health Insurance Off the Grid
Introduction – The State of Healthcare in

The Problems
The “state of healthcare in America” today is weak. We are
headed in the wrong direction, and we are paying too much for
diminishing results.

Using the phrase “American healthcare crisis” is cliché by now.

We have a crisis, there is no doubt. The signs are all around us.

We Hate Our Health Insurers

The acronym HMO has become one of the hated symbols of
American life. Health maintenance organizations routinely deny
care, pressure doctors into providing insufficient treatment, and
enrage their “clients.” Federal law prevents most people from
suing their HMOs, no matter how egregious the action.

Doctors on Strike?
For the first time in history, medical doctors are holding
statewide strikes, like those in West Virginia in January, 2003.
Many doctors are quitting due to high malpractice insurance
premiums, which often exceed $100,000, according to the Inc.
magazine article in December 2003 entitled “The Worst
Business in America.”

Health Insurance Off the Grid
Americans Go Uninsured When They Go
One out of seven Americans lives without health insurance
(Statistical Abstract of the US 2002). Many of these are families
where the sole wage-earner has recently lost a job and the
family cannot afford COBRA coverage, or someone has a
chronic disease (pre-existing condition).

I met a self-employed young woman recently who has been

separated from her husband for three years, but they’ve agreed
to stay married so she can continue to get health insurance
under his employer’s plan.

Health Insurance Costs Rise Dramatically

Health insurance premiums for the self-employed have risen 6-
15% every year for the past five years, effectively doubling in
that time. The inflation rate for all other products and services
has held steady at under 4%. That means insurance premiums
have risen at a rate almost 400% that of inflation. HMOs, which
were created to reduce costs, have seemed to produce the
opposite effect.

Health Insurance Off the Grid
Comparing Inflation to Health Insurance
Year National Inflation Health Benefit Costs
1998 1.6% 6.1%
1999 2.7% 7.3%
2000 3.4% 8.1%
2001 1.6% 11.2%
2002 2.4% 14.7%

Source of Inflation Rate: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2003

Source of Health Benefit Costs: Mercer/Foster Higgins National Survey,

NOTE: The “health benefit costs” shown above are the increases to rates
to the employers. For example, in 2002, employer health costs rose
14.7%, but the costs passed on to employees in the form of higher
monthly premiums, higher deductibles and higher co-payments generated
much higher costs for employees, up to 20% in many cases.

Employers are drastically reducing the health benefits they

provide to their employees every year, trying to find ways to
limit the effects of the premium increases. They use doughnut
hole health insurance policies, which offer full coverage up to a
set amount (say $1,000) then no coverage up to a second limit
(say $2,500), then partial coverage again after that second limit
is reached.

The idea was to have employees conserve their coverage

instead of wasting trips to the doctor for trivial things.

Health Insurance Off the Grid
The actual result has been that employees try to “hoard” the
initial amount, postponing doctor visits until a health problem
becomes acute and hard to reverse.

Strikes at grocery chains in California in 2003 and 2004 have

had one major issue at stake – who’s going to pay the
employee’s health insurance premiums?

Wal-Mart has become the largest company in the world by

selling goods at the lowest possible prices. One way they’ve
achieved this has been to maintain a non-union shop to keep
wages low, and to make the employee’s cost of health insurance
so high that many Wal-Mart employees cannot afford to even

Medical Doctors are “Opting Out”

Some doctors are opting out of the health insurance world.
(Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2003)

By opting out, I mean doctors who refuse all patients who wish
to use health insurance of any kind.

By refusing all forms of insurance, the doctors can operate a

clinic with two adminstrators instead of six. Fewer forms to fill
out, no fighting with insurers about claims.

The doctors charge the patients a reasonable amount directly,

paid at the time of service, which reflects their much-reduced
overhead, in many cases down to $50-70 per doctor visit. As
Health Insurance Off the Grid
you can imagine, patients who do not have health insurance
happily pay such reasonable rates.

All This Money Isn’t Buying Better Care

Although America pays much more than other countries for
healthcare, it is not the healthiest country. America pays
double the amount per capita on healthcare versus Britain,
Germany or Japan. That’s right, I said double.

It is hard to measure a nation’s “wellness,” so economists tend

to look at life expectancy and infant mortality. However
imperfect those measurements might be, they are some
indication of our health.

An American’s life expectancy is 72 years, lower than many

other Western nations (Germany is 73, Canada is 75, Japan is
77). Infant mortality is also no lower than other countries. We
are not getting value for our money.

Imagine buying a personal computer, then finding out that your

friend bought a computer that was a little better but cost half
what you paid!

Additionally, Americans get sicker each year. Incidence of

chronic diseases and conditions increase each year: diabetes,
autism, ADD/ADHD, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome,
alcoholism, migraine headaches, obesity, osteoporosis,
hepatitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and of course cancer and heart
Health Insurance Off the Grid

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute stated in 2002 that

new lung cancer victims are increasing 1.2% per year,
melanoma 4%, prostate cancer 2.2%, and colorectal cancer 3%
(statistics from 1996 to 2002). Are we on the road to curing
cancer once people get it? Possibly, but we are far from
understanding how to prevent it!

Preventive Care Still Isn’t Part of the Health

Insurance Picture
In American healthcare, we focus our efforts on curing diseases
once they’ve occurred, rather than preventing them.

The preventive information we receive from Western medical

doctors is often general and sometimes unsound. For skin
cancer, the advice has been to stay out of the sun, but that has
been proven at least partially incorrect (Journal of the National
Cancer Institute report 2002). Similarly, advice about low fat
diets has either proven wrong or people have not followed their
doctors’ advice, because obesity is now a problem for 60% of
adults and an unprecedented 30% of children (National
Institutes of Health Website).

Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Indian

ayurveda and other systems are ruled out of American
healthcare and insurance, even though their systems have been
proven to work over thousands of years and incorporate many
preventive measures into the overall practice of healthcare. This
is not even mentioning widespread practices like massage
Health Insurance Off the Grid
therapy, fitness training, yoga and nutrition that are either
completely left out of health insurance coverage or are only
used under insurance to correct a problem, not to prevent a

Controlled Studies Give Us Inconclusive Results

Western medicine uses controlled studies as its basis for what
works and what doesn’t. A controlled study is one where
classically-trained scientists or doctors are in charge, activities
are meticulously documented, control groups are used (given
placebo treatments like sugar pills) and the results are published
in a recognized, peer-reviewed journal (like the Journal of the
American Medical Association). And yet, controlled scientific
studies give us confusing results, year after year.

Drugs that initially seem effective are later proven totally


Arthroscopic knee surgery is proven in a controlled study to be

no better for its patients than a “fake surgery” where doctors put
the patient under anesthesia and then pretend to operate.

Food and herb studies are no better. According to controlled

studies, coffee is bad for us, then good, then bad again. Salt
causes hypertension, then it doesn’t. Eggs have cholesterol, so
we should avoid them, then they still have cholesterol, but we
should eat them without worry. Tomatoes need to be raw to
give us the most health benefit, then cooked, then raw. Butter is
worse than margarine, then better, then worse. Vegetarians live
Health Insurance Off the Grid
long, healthy lives, then we find out that they die years earlier
than meat-eaters. We determine unequivocally that a high fat,
low fiber diet causes heart disease, yet that is exactly what the
French eat and their rate of heart disease and cancer is the
second lowest in the world (to Japan).

Our Leaders Aren’t Asking the Right Questions

In this year’s presidential campaign, pollsters are asking people
about their biggest concerns.

Number four --- the war in Iraq

Number three --- national security
Number two --- stagnant economy
Number one --- healthcare
Source: New Hampshire Democratic primary
exit polls – reported by National Public
Radio – January 28, 2004

Healthcare is number one on people’s minds.

Political candidates say they can give us solutions to pay for the
massive healthcare bills we are ringing up as a nation.

Solutions to bringing down the cost of healthcare range widely.

Some propose to tweak the current system one way or another,
resulting in billions of dollars in savings, we’re told.

Health Insurance Off the Grid
Others propose a “single payer” system, similar to Canada’s
socialized medicine program.

One solution is called the “group doctor visit” where three to

seven patients visit the doctor at the same time, allowing the
doctor to charge only a fraction to each patient. "I think it's the
future of medicine," says Ed Noffsinger, PhD, father of the
DIGMA (Drop-In Group Medical Appointment). In an initial
survey, forty per cent of patients surveyed said they would
never, ever use such an appointment format. When trying to fix
a broken system with band-aid solutions, we tend to try even
the most ridiculous solutions in hopes that we can revive what
is already lost.

The problem is it costs so much to see a doctor for a seven-

minute visit. The doctor has the cost of the health insurance
paperwork, malpractice insurance premiums and the extremely
expensive and dangerous drugs, equipment and procedures at
his disposal. It costs a lot for these reasons, not because the
doctor is trying to “rip off” their patients. It just costs a lot.

Is the question
“How will we pay for this healthcare?”
“Why is healthcare so expensive?”

Health Insurance Off the Grid
Druggies For Life
Many people have accepted that they will have to take
pharmaceutical drugs for the rest of their lives. Diabetics accept
that they will have to inject insulin. People with high blood
pressure accept that they will take drugs to prevent heart
attacks. These drugs do not help reverse the conditions they
treat. The cost of these “everlasting drugs” goes to increase
health insurance premiums for all payers.

Antibiotics Are Bringing Back the Plagues!

Hmm, sounds like a headline from a supermarket tabloid!
Strange but true, unfortunately.

Overuse of antibiotics in North America has contributed to

what scientists call “super-germs,” which can live through any
antibiotic treatment. Doctors overprescribe antibiotics and other
drugs. By overusing antibiotics, we are creating an environment
friendly towards the plagues of the Middle Ages, where a
specific illness was allowed to roam freely from person to
person, town to town, nation to nation. We can see the start of
this with the SARS epidemic in Asia and Canada, the re-
emergence of hepatitis, and the dramatic increase of staph
infections in hospitals. Also implicated in this spread of
resistant bacteria are the best-selling anti-bacterial soaps, which
encourage the spread of supergerms in the home, office and

Health Insurance Off the Grid
The Right Drug in the Right Dosage Kills 100,000
a Year
One hundred thousand patients die every year in America from
receiving the right prescribed drug in the right dose at the right
time. This is called iatrogenesis and it is the fifth leading cause
of death in America (DrMercola.com Website).

Yet, we sanctimoniously ban ephedra, which has been

tangentially linked to 155 deaths? (CNN news story, January

Who’s to Blame?
Don’t Blame Your Doctor

Don’t Blame the Insurance Company

Don’t Blame the Government

Don’t Blame the HMOs

Wouldn’t That Look Great on a Protest Sign?

Protesting in front of insurance company offices asking them to
lower premium rates won’t work. Insurance premiums are
based on the services insurance companies have to pay for, and
those services are very expensive and are used often.
Competition between insurance companies keeps insurance
Health Insurance Off the Grid
premiums as low as they can be, believe it or not. Insurance
companies are scrutinized for anti-trust violations, so if any
price cooperation is occuring between insurance companies, it
is exposed by government anti-trust agencies, the press or the

Protesting in front of doctors’ offices asking them to accept

lower fees won’t work. Doctors are making much less money
than they were ten years ago, due to HMO cost-cutting and
increased competition from holistic practitioners like
chiropractors. Producing documentation in compliance with
health insurers, malpractice insurers and HMOs has created a
tremendous bureaucracy in every Western medical doctor’s
office. Doctors who opt out of taking health insurance patients
say they can save 80% of their overhead with that single step,
passing on the savings to their direct-bill patients.

Protesting in front of drug companies asking them to switch to

safer, cheaper herbs won’t work. Drug companies work for
years to produce a single drug, which then must be sold at a
very high profit for many years to reimburse the research and
testing. Herbs are not patentable, so drug companies would be
at a disadvantage to existing supplement companies, who are
efficient and effective at sourcing, harvesting, distributing and
selling herbs and vitamins.

Protesting in front of the US Capitol asking them to pass laws

to limit the malpractice premiums for Western doctors won’t
work. Malpractice premiums reflect competition between
insurance companies, so they are as low as they can be, given
Health Insurance Off the Grid
the costs. The root problem is the level of danger in Western
medical procedures, especially childbirth, anesthesia, surgery of
all kinds, and pharmaceuticals. The litigious nature of the
American society is obviously a root cause of high malpractice
premiums as well, but that is not a topic I’m prepared to address
in this book.

Protesting in front of HMO offices asking them to stay out of

the business of making medical decisions won’t work. HMOs
were built on the assumption that the HMOs would have power
over which medical procedures would be used or not, so
dismantling that fundamental assumption would immediately
undo the HMO system, something no HMO would be inclined
to do today or any other day.

It may seem that I’m defending HMOs, insurance and

pharmaceutical companies. This is odd because I detest these
companies as much as anybody. But what I’m trying to avoid is
giving the impression to anyone that we can avoid our own
personal responsibility by foisting it onto one of these easy

We Have Met the Enemy and…D’Oh!

As Pogo sighed in the first Earth Day cartoon strip in 1971,
“We have met the enemy and he is us!”

It would be easy to blame people in power for the problems in

healthcare, but, in the short term, it is unproductive. We must
Health Insurance Off the Grid
use our dollars and our votes to make a better America, but we
need to stop our own destructive behavior before we will see
changes anywhere else in the country.

Every time we’ve said “I pay so damn much for this

insurance, it better cover everything little thing I need,”
we’ve created the problem.

Every time we’ve sued a doctor because things didn’t

turn out exactly the way we were expecting, we’ve
created the problem.

Every time we’ve demanded the doctor give us a stronger

prescription or a brand name drug rather than a generic,
“just to be safe,” we’ve created the problem.

Every time we’ve accepted a doctor’s advice that

“there’s nothing you can do to reverse this illness, so
take this pill for the rest of your life,” we’ve created the

Every time we’ve accepted an expensive surgical

procedure or drug that was covered in our health plan
instead of investigating a cheaper, safer alternative,
we’ve created the problem.

Every year we’ve let our politicians get re-elected

without solving the problem of the uninsured, we’ve
created the problem.
Health Insurance Off the Grid

Every time we’ve watched a drug commercial on

television and then demanded that our doctor prescribe it
for our children, we’ve created the problem.

Every time we’ve knowingly abused our own health

through our diet, smoking, alcohol abuse, lack of
exercise, emotional outbursts, bad posture, and laziness,
we’ve created the problem.

If you want to blame someone, blame me. Blame us all.

The American thing to do is for each of us to take responsibility

for this situation. We’ve created it together so let’s fix it

The difference between blaming and taking responsibility is

that blaming looks backward, trying to find the “guilty party.”
Taking responsibility looks forward to who needs to take action
to fix this problem in the future.

There is one thing that will work. Each person must create a
plan today that will work for themselves where they can afford
the insurance premiums and get access to the care they need.

Health Insurance Off the Grid
What Should We Do?
Fixing Healthcare Nationally
Every presidential candidate tells us they have the solution to
our healthcare issues. The meekest solutions provide us with
additional federal funding (taken from which budget, we are not
told). The boldest plans give us copycat solutions taken from
other countries where healthcare “really works,” usually
Canada, Britain or Germany.

Something that stands out for me is that the politicians seem to

be diligently answering the question “How do we pay for this
mess?” while just as diligently avoiding the question “How did
we get this mess?”

Healthcare is very, very expensive, and is outpacing inflation

by a factor of four. Why? What are we doing wrong in
healthcare that is causing our costs to rise so quickly and yet
not be solving our problems in disease prevention or mortality?
Where is our money going?

“Healthcare costs are outpacing inflation by a factor

of four.”

The easy answer is to look for an Enron-style scapegoat, a

greedy industrialist who is stealing the money for his own

Health Insurance Off the Grid
collection of jets, mansions and rare artwork. But I don’t
believe that’s happening in this case.

I feel the problem with our healthcare system is systemic,

meaning it is a problem with the system itself, not the people
inside the system.

In order to prevent disease we need to have a focus on

preventing disease. Our medical system is a “disease care
system” instead of a “health care system.” Our doctors are well-
trained to leap into action when they find a disease, but they
seem to sputter when asked questions about prevention.

But a focus on disease is just one symptom of the national

healthcare problem.

My instincts tell me we are far from any reasonable national

solution on healthcare. We have run too far off the rails to be
able to get back on track quickly. Like most people, I have
strong opinions about what can work and what will not work,
but that is not the focus of this book.

The problems I outlined at the beginning of this book need to

be solved. But, until then, each of us needs to do what we can to
create our own plan for health and wellness until we have
reasonable, dramatically more effective solutions at the national

Health Insurance Off the Grid
The question I intend to answer in this book is “how can I
create a plan for my family’s health without having to change
the American healthcare system?”

This approach solves the problem at two levels. First, it means

we each have a way to cope until we collectively understand
how to fix our national system. Second, by virtue of us
changing our own approach to healthcare, the national system
itself will have to adapt to suit us, and it will be changing in a
positive way.

Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” By
changing your own approach to healthcare, you cannot help but
change things at a national (and international) level.

NOTE: For a number of very rational suggestions on how to

fix the national healthcare situation, please read the free
newsletter called “The Radical Middle” at this Web address:


Fixing Healthcare Personally

So, by choosing to change our own healthcare approach, we
change the nation. In the next chapter, I explain how that is

The hardest part of this change will be your own mindset.

Using the individual tools I outline is easy; it is a matter of

Health Insurance Off the Grid
doing some calculations, making phone calls, meeting with
certain experts, signing some papers.

But changing your own mindset towards your healthcare, health

insurance and finances may be extremely difficult. You will
face the “devil you know is better than the devil you don’t”
problem in your own head.

Remember that the mindset shift is difficult. And try to see it

from the perspective of the amount of money it can save you,
and the greater health you’ll gain.

Health Insurance Off the Grid
Health Off the Grid – Helping Health Insurance
Serve You
I have created a healthcare approach that I call Health Off the
Grid. This approach is a set of services available today that
together can offer the peace-of-mind of an insurance policy
with the ability to include holistic health services and flexibility
to handle the ups and downs of everyday life.

In this chapter, I’ll describe the Health Off the Grid approach
and all its parts. I’ll show you how it works and explain where
you can get each type of service.

The Plan in Brief

Health Off the Grid is a set of tools that, when used together,
create a powerful plan that, I believe, can satisfy many of the
objectives that people wish for their healthcare today in

Why the name “Health Insurance Off the Grid?”

Living “off the grid” means that a person might be using wind
turbines, solar cells, water wells and septic tanks to remove themselves
from the necessity of any utilities like electricity, water and sewer. I’ve
always respected these folks for their courage and self-reliance.

My approach to health insurance is similar to these amazing pioneers,

although it requires much less courage! Just a different mindset
towards insurance and some discipline to carry it out.

Health Insurance Off the Grid
I will summarize a plan for creating and maintaining health
using the existing tools in the American healthcare system. I
will explain each step and how it relates to decreasing your
costs and benefiting your health.

My goals in creating the Health Off The Grid plan are:

1. Reduce the total amount of money families pay for

healthcare (including insurance premiums) by at least
$2,000 per year.
2. Allow the family to pare down expenses when times
get tough (wage earner loses a job) and bring them
back again when the income returns.
3. Allow families to focus on the safest, most effective
and cheapest remedies first, moving to more
dangerous and expensive remedies only after the first
ones do not work.
4. Allow for payment of an infinitely wide variety of
healthcare treatments, including Chinese medicine,
yoga, fitness training, herbs, reiki, and many others,
while still retaining Western medical treatment for
the times it is appropriate.
5. Create a system that works for all employment
situations, especially the self-employed and
6. Reduce the number of interactions (re: hassles) with
health insurance companies and HMOs to a
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7. Reward families financially for practicing preventive
8. Take the fear out of healthcare by creating
overlapping and backup systems of healthcare
9. Create a system that can be done by the client or
delegated to a qualified financial planner.

I believe the Health Off The Grid system satisfies these goals,
but you need to be the judge as you read the rest of this chapter.

Health Off the Grid --- Steps

1. Sign up for a high-deductible health insurance plan.

2. Create a Health Savings Account (HSA).
3. Create a Health Off The Grid Account (HOTG
4. Sign up for a health discount card, covering
pharmacy, dental, vision, vitamins, herbs and
alternative medicine practices.
5. Add a health insurance rider to your car insurance
6. Create a monthly health spending plan.
7. Create a network of practitioners supporting your
family’s health.
8. Save the rest.
9. Review your Health Off The Grid strategy with your
family at least once a year.
Health Insurance Off the Grid

Step 1 – High-Deductible Health Insurance –

Be Secure Without Overpaying
We begin with the health insurance policy itself. Not to be too
philosophical, but what is health insurance?? What is its

The nature of insurance is to cover the costs for an

individual when those costs are so great that the
individual would suffer great hardship if he had to pay
them himself.

When a person’s house burns down, the cost of replacing the

entire house might be out-of-reach for the individual, so the
person buys house insurance and pays a small amount each
month to insure that if the house burns down, the money will be
there to replace it quickly.

When a person is involved in a car accident, the cost of

replacing the car, plus personal injuries even liability if other
people are hurt, could be out-of-reach. Again, the person
purchases car insurance for this eventuality.

With health, though, we seem to take a different approach. Yes,

we expect the health insurance to be there for the big stuff:
when we break our leg, fall out a window, or get cancer. But we
also seem to expect that it should cover all medical services, no
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matter how small. When we visit the doctor because we have
the sniffles, we want health insurance to pay. When we use one
$90 bottle of prescription medication, we funnel the cost
through health insurance.

Our current mindset with health insurance is unworkable.

It is what has created the monster that we have today in the
American medical system.

Sky-high costs.

Idiotic bureaucracy.

Unhappiness in doctors and patients alike.

Each of us must rethink our approach to healthcare.

If we took our “health insurance approach” with house

insurance, we would be buying house insurance to cover every
bit of maintenance from window-cleaning to installing a new
phone line to repainting a wall in the bedroom. Insurance
companies would be trying to decide whether you really needed
that extra phone line or not, whether your windows were really
too dirty to look through. Can you imagine??

If we did it with car insurance, it would be like expecting

insurance to cover gasoline and oil changes, brake jobs and
mufflers. You’d have to wait several hours at the gas station
each time to give the insurance adjustor time to decide whether
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you really deserved another tank of gas because you had used
so much already that month. Can you imagine??

Immense cost, confusion and delays are what we would

encounter if we expected these things from our house or car
insurance. And yet, there’s no need to imagine because we have
exactly that in American health insurance.

The High-Deductible Response to Insanity

The way for you and your family to “opt out” of this madness is
to sign up for a high-deductible health insurance policy.

A deductible is the initial amount each year that the client is

responsible for. After the deductible is satisfied (paid by the
client), the insurance company begins to pay claims.

Insurance companies offer steep discounts for these types of

high-deductible policies. High deductibles lower the overhead
costs so much that health insurers will cut premiums for high
deductible policies by thousands of dollars per year.

How high is a high deductible? There is an optimal

deductible. It is $2,500. This deductible is magical. Let me
explain why.

If you have a bad health year and spend the entire $2,500
deductible yourself every year of your life, you will still be
ahead because you’ve been paying premiums that are so much
lower. Let me state that in another way. You save so much on
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what you pay in monthly premiums that even if you and your
family were so sick year-after-year that you had to use your
entire deductible every year, you’d still save money over a
typical low-deductible policy.

The reason health insurers can make these high-deductible

premiums so low is because you are saving them the overhead
of having to go through the approval process for the claims up
to the $2,500 deductible. It should be less and it is!

This is a major key to the entire Health Off The Grid plan, so I
hope you understand what I’m saying here. Let’s use a quick

For a low-deductible health insurance policy, you might pay

$800 per month for a family of three. By switching to a high-
deductible policy ($2,500), you will likely pay about $300. The
savings are $500 per month. Multiple that by twelve months in
the year, and you’ve saved $6,000 each year. Remember, your
deductible was $2,500. So if you spend the entire deductible
every year for the rest of your life, you’ll still save $3,500 every
year. Put that into a mutual fund, with 4% return, and you’ve
accumulated over $42,000 in ten years. Just for changing the
deductible on your insurance policy!

To really get the picture of what a high-deductible policy will

do for you, let’s review some detailed examples on the
following pages.

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NOTE: The insurance costs are estimated and could
vary greatly from one insurer to another. Please use
the figures for comparisons only.

Compare the Plans

Low-Deductible High-Deductible
Deductible $100 $2,500
Co-insurance 0% 20%
Office visit rider 20% not included
Prescription drug rider $250 not included
Monthly premium (for $1086 $300
family of three):

The plan in the left-hand-column is a typical health insurance

policy, which we call low-deductible.

The plan in the right-hand-column represents a high-deductible

policy where we’ve refused all add-ons and riders. This is the
type of policy I’m recommending in this book.

The monthly difference in premiums between the low-

deductible and high-deductible plans is $786 ($1086 - $300).

Multiple that by twelve months in the year, and you’ve saved


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On the downside, you have a higher-deductible in the right

column, $2,400 higher. The right-hand-column also refuses the
prescription drug rider taken on the left.

In the tables below, let’s see what happens when your family
has a good healthy year and also in a year where there is a lot of

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Year 1 Scenario – No Big Illnesses - $900 spent

Low-Deductible High-Deductible
Deductible $100 $750
Co-insurance $0 $0
Prescription costs $150 $150
Premiums paid: $13,032 $3,600
Total paid: $13,282 $4,500

In Year 1, we had no big illnesses in this family. We spent $750

on healthcare services and $150 on prescriptions. Not much,
just a few doctor visits and a couple of pharmaceuticals. For the
right-hand column, we had to pay that amount totally out-of-
pocket. Bummer!!

With the left-hand-column, everything except $100 was

covered. Well, we had to kick in for the prescriptions, because
we didn’t meet our prescription rider deductible of $250.

Great, right?? Well, the catch is that those nasty premium

payments were mounting up every month, we had to pay
$13,032 in monthly premiums in the left-hand-column.

Overall, the right-hand column (High-Deductible) saves us

a total of $8,782 in a healthy year.

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Year 2 Scenario – Family Member Ill

$67,000 spent +
$5,000 in prescriptions
Low-Deductible High-Deductible
Deductible $100 $2,500
Co-insurance $0 $900
Prescription costs $2,750 $5,000
Premiums paid: $13,032 $3,600
Total paid: $15,882 $12,000

Year 2 wasn’t so kind to our family. One of our family

members got really sick and was in the hospital for several
weeks. Plus $5,000 of prescription medicine through the ordeal
and recovery. Yikes!! Aren’t you glad you had health

Let’s compare the two plans again. The left-hand column

covered all the costs except the $100 deductible. Wow, what a
deal!! Well, there was one hitch. We had to pay $2,750 for the
prescriptions, because our prescription drug rider had its own
deductible, plus it had an upper limit, so we still got stuck with
some of the cost.

The right-hand-column forced us to pay the entire $2,500 out-

of-pocket before the insurance started to kick in. That was a
big annoyance, but it sure was easier to deal with than
$67,000!! The other bad thing was that we did not pay for a

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prescription rider in the right-hand-column, so we had to pay
the entire $5,000 for prescriptions.

But the amazing thing happens when we look at the bottom line
of each policy. Even though we had to pay that enormous
deductible of $2,500 this year, we STILL SAVED MONEY
using the right-hand-column.

Overall, the High-Deductible policy saved $3,882.

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Year 3 Scenario – Incorporate Holistic Health
$6,500 spent on Holistic Health,
$2,000 on Western Medicine
Low-Deductible High-Deductible
Deductible $100 $2,000
Co-insurance $0 $0
Prescription costs $0 $0
Premiums paid: $13,032 $3,600
Holistic health services: $6,500 $6,500
Total paid: $19,632 $12,100

In Year 3, our family decides to incorporate a whole set of

holistic health services into their lives – yoga, herbs, meditation
classes, energy healing – you name it.

It’s a pretty good year, the family has only $2,000 in Western
medical expenses. No prescription drugs this time, because our
family is using herbs and vitamins instead as much as possible.

Again, the right-hand-column comes out ahead. The high-

deductible policy saves $7,532. Notice how the total of the
high-deductible policy with holistic health services is still less
than the low-deductible without those additional services.

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Here’s a thought:

Take that $7,532 that you save in health

insurance and put it into a savings plan every
year and it will grow to become $154,000
in fifteen years (4% return).

What could you buy with


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How Much Do Most of Us Spend on Medical


All this talk about family members getting sick begs the
question – how often does that happen?

Luckily, we have statistics from AmericanHealthValue.com

to give us an idea of where the “typical year” will come in.

Keep in mind that this chart only shows Western medical

expenses (doctor visits, prescriptions, hospital stays, etc.), not
holistic services (vitamin pills, yoga classes, personal training
sessions, etc.).

Money Spent on Medical Care Annually Percentage of

U.S. Population

$0 33%
$1 -$500 40%
$501 - $1,000 9%
$1,001 - $2,000 7%
$2,001 - $5,000 6%
$5,001 - $10,000 3%
$10,001 - $25,000 3%
$25,001 - $50,000 .5%
$50,001 - $100,000 .2%
$100,001 - And Up .05%

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These statistics say to me that, in almost every year of my life,

my costs will be below $1000. A few years might be higher
than that, but the $67,000 example I used earlier would happen
less than one percent of the time.

One percent means an average of one year in one hundred


Now let’s examine some additional things to think about when

talking to your insurance agent about your high-deductible

Policy Riders
There are two policy riders that you should consider removing.
Riders are additions to a policy that add money to your

The first is the prescription drug rider. The premiums for this
rider can be quite costly and if you can possibly avoid it, you
should. Obviously, if you are in a situation where you must take
prescription drugs regularly to treat a chronic problem, you may
not be able to follow my advice.

But if you can take more of a holistic approach to your family’s

healthcare, you can remove the prescription drug rider and

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substitute holistic remedies (homeopathy, herbs, vitamins,
aromatherapy, etc.) that are much cheaper and safer.

The prescription drug rider is usually a bad deal for consumers.

It often has a deductible associated with it, perhaps $250. Then
it has an upper limit on what you can use per year, often
$2,500. So the prescription drug rider gives you a total of
$2,250 coverage in a given year. My guess is that even if you
used the entire coverage every year, you would still be barely
ahead of the game.

The second policy rider is usually called the doctor visit rider.
Again, if you decide in your monthly spending plan that you
wish to see a Western MD regularly, you will probably want to
keep this rider. But my suggestion is that you consider
switching to a holistic practitioner (naturopathic doctor,
chiropractor, ayurvedic doctor, etc.) as your health advisor. If
you take my advice, you’ll want to remove this rider from your

Discounts on Out-of-Pocket Expenses

When you have any type of health insurance (low-deductible or
high-deductible) you get discounts on Western medical services
based on what the insurance company negotiated with the
doctor’s group. These are often substantial, perhaps 30-50%.

When I first shifted to a high-deductible policy years ago, I was

shocked when I received the bill. Shocked in a good way! The
doctor visit was shown as $150, with some other costs for
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various tests they had done. Then beside each figure for the
“regular customer” they had my “discounted rate.” I thought,
“Wow, who am I to deserve this discount?” But since I had run
the cost through my health insurer (they paid 0% of it, of
course) I got their discounted rate. So, even though I had to pay
for my entire doctor visit and for all the tests (I hadn’t hit my
yearly deductible yet) I still got amazing discounts just for
being under the insurer’s umbrella.

These discounts apply to the services and products that you pay
for (because you haven’t hit your deductible for the year yet)
but that would have been eligible for insurance had you reached
your deductible. Your insurance company has negotiated steep
discounts with the providers (doctors, hospitals, etc. in your
network) and you will receive those discounts if you file the
claim with your health insurance company, no matter whether
you’ve reached your deductible or not.

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Step 2 – Health Savings Account (HSA) –

Cover Small Expenses and Save on Taxes

The Health Savings Account (HSA) was created as part of the

Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and
Modernization Act of 2003, but its predecessor, the Medical
Savings Account (MSA) existed in a slightly different form
several years before that. Since the MSA was considered an
experiment by the federal legislators, some individuals shied
away from it until it was made permanent in late 2003. There is
no longer any reason to ignore the benefits of the HSA.

An HSA is a special type of Individual Retirement Account


An IRA is an account where an individual may deposit a few

thousand dollars each year, deduct that amount off their current
year tax return, and then watch the money grow without taxes
being applied each year thereafter. After the money is
withdrawn at the time of retirement, tax is applied. If a person
has retired, their income level would be lower and therefore the
tax rate would be less than if they had been taxed all those years
earlier. IRAs are a great deal for retirement savings.

An HSA may be used exactly the same way, but there is one
change that makes the HSA even more valuable to you.

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An HSA is an account where the individual may deposit money
and deduct that deposit from that year’s tax return. However,
the individual may then withdraw money from the HSA at any
time, as long as the withdrawal is to pay for a “valid” medical

The IRS decides what a valid medical expense is. Here is a

partial list:

• co-payments for doctor visits

• insurance premiums
• legal abortions
• acupuncture
• Alcoholic Anonymous expenses (transportation, etc.)
• chiropractor
• Christian Science practitioner
• dental treatment
• glasses and contacts
• lab fees
• pharmaceuticals
• weight loss programs
• wheelchairs

For a complete list, you may visit the IRS Website and search
for Publication 502, which lists all the medical expenses that
the IRS views as “valid” for tax deduction.

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Almost all these services must be done at the direction of a

Medical Doctor (MD or DO) in order to be considered valid
withdrawals from a Health Savings Account.

Be Your Own Insurance Company – For the Small

Essentially, an HSA allows you to be your own insurance
company for small expenses that fall under your deductible.
And being your own insurance company means avoiding the
overhead of forms processing through a real insurance
company, which means saving you a lot of money.

You cannot be your own insurance company for large

amounts. An extended hospital stay could cost $50,000, which
very few of us could afford out-of-pocket. That is why we have
the safety net of the high-deductible insurance policy. But for
smaller amounts, we can do it ourselves safely.

You must decide how to invest your HSA. It must be specially

designated as an HSA, but you may put it into a bank savings
account, a money market account or a mutual fund. I suggest
either a money market account or a “very safe” mutual
fund, one that specializes in government bonds, for instance.
You do not want an account that gyrates up and down with the
stock market, because your money might not be there when you
need it most. But you also do not want the ultra-low interest
generated by a regular bank savings account, so choose
something in between.
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The only company that can set up an HSA for you is a company
designated by the IRS as an HSA custodian. Banks, insurance
agents and financial planners are quickly becoming qualified as
HSA custodians, so check with your favorite institution to see if
they can set it up for you.

Use, Snooze, but You Won’t Lose It

HSAs can be rolled over from year to year. There is no “use it
or lose it” with HSAs. Whatever you don’t use in the first year
is rolled over completely (with interest!) into the second year,
so if your health is good, you are rewarded with increased
savings each year! In the second year, you can put more money
into the HSA, and get another tax break. You can also just sit
on the money that’s already in it without adding anything.

If when you retire, you have built up extra money each year in
your HSA, well, you now have another IRA that you hadn’t
counted on! Upon retirement age, you may begin drawing the
money out just like any other Traditional IRA. Taxes will be
charged upon withdrawal, but since you are retired, your
income level is probably much lower than when you were
working, so the tax rate will be lower.

An HSA is only available to an "eligible individual." An

eligible individual is one who:

• is covered under a high-deductible health insurance

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• is not entitled to benefits under Medicare (generally, has
not yet reached age 65)
• is not covered by some other health insurance policy that
is low-deductible
• may not be claimed as a dependent on another person's
tax return

This means you can be self-employed, unemployed or

employed, as long as you have only one health insurance policy
(through yourself or your company) that has a high-deductible.

The lowest “high deductible” you could have and still get an
HSA is $1,000 for an individual and $2,000 for a family. But
my advice is to stick with the $2,500 deductible, because that is
when the numbers are all working for you, not against you. I
feel $1,000 is still too low.

Where to Get It?

Beginning January 1, 2004 you can establish an HSA with a
qualified HSA trustee or custodian, in much the same way that
you establish IRAs with qualified IRA trustees or custodians.
No permission from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is
necessary to establish an HSA. An eligible individual who is an
employee may establish an HSA with or without involvement
of the employer. Any bank, financial planner or insurance agent
can likely help you set up an HSA. Since they are so new, you
may have to make a few calls, but don’t despair, you’ll find one
in your area.
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I can state for certain that any State Farm insurance agent will
offer the services of a high-deductible health insurance policy
and an HSA. State Farm provides my wife and me with our
insurance and HSA, through Ohio agent Larry Buttermore
(614-882-3276). I am also aware that some Raymond James
offices offer this combination of insurance and HSA, including
Logan Financial Group in Ohio (614-442-0214). And,
independent insurance agents and financial planners may also
be able to help you, including Mica Schober at the Poetry of
Money in Ohio (614-619-0404).

Any insurance company or any bank can be an HSA trustee or

custodian. That doesn’t mean they all are, but they can apply
for that title. Also, any agent or planner already approved by the
IRS to be a trustee or custodian of IRAs or Archer MSAs is
automatically approved to be an HSA trustee or custodian.

The financial planner or insurance agent setting up your HSA

will ask you for proof that you are covered by a health plan that
meets all of the requirements of an “high-deductible” health
insurance policy. The easiest way to set up your HSA is to do it
with the same company that sets up your health insurance

HSA Details, Details, Details

What about contributing money into your HSA? For an HSA
established by an employee of a company, the employee, the
company or both may contribute to the HSA. For an HSA
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established by a self-employed (or even unemployed)
individual, the individual may contribute to the HSA. Family
members may also make contributions to an HSA on behalf of
another family member.

The maximum contributions to an HSA for each year can be

100% of the annual health insurance deductible ($2,500) but
not more than $2,600 for an individual (single person policy),
whichever is less.

For families with a high-deductible policy, the maximum is the

lesser of 100% of the annual deductible under the high-
deductible health plan (HDHP) but not more than $5,150.

For people between ages 55 and 65, the HSA contribution limit
is increased by $500 in calendar year 2004. Starting in 2005,
this catch-up amount will increase in $100 increments annually,
until it reaches $1,000 in calendar year 2009.

After an individual has attained age 65 (Medicare eligibility

age), contributions, including catch-up contributions, cannot be
made to an individual's HSA.

Your contributions to your HSA are deductible whether or not

you itemize on your tax return. However, you cannot duplicate
these same medical expenses in other areas of your tax return if
they were paid from your HSA.

Employer contributions to the employee's HSA are treated as

employer-provided coverage for medical expenses under an
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accident or health plan and are excluded from the employee's
gross income. The employer contributions are not subject to
withholding from wages for income tax or subject to the
Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), the Federal
Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), or the Railroad Retirement
Tax Act. Of course, the employee cannot deduct employer
contributions on his or her federal income tax return as HSA

You can contribute to your HSA however you’d like. My wife

and I make our contributions in a lump sum at the beginning of
each year, but you could contribute monthly, twice-monthly,
whatever way you’d like. In fact, like an IRA, you can
contribute to last year’s HSA until April 15 of the following

If you currently have an MSA, I suggest you “roll it over” into

an HSA. HSAs have higher limits and fewer restrictions than
MSAs. However, if you have a Flexible Spending Account
(FSA) with your employer, you cannot roll that into an HSA.
The rollover amount does not contribute to your yearly limit.

No one is going to be looking over your shoulder to make sure

the withdrawals you make from your HSA are for valid medical
services. However, when it comes to tax time, the IRS will be
looking at those withdrawals and any that cannot be accounted
for will be investigated, just like any other tax deduction. I have
no information nor reason to believe that owning an HSA will
draw a “red flag” from the IRS for a tax audit. HSAs will

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become so popular that I believe this is a very unlikely
scenario, unless you abuse your HSA, of course.

Try to find a provider who offers a debit card as the way to

withdraw money from your HSA. This will provide an easy
method of documentation for every transaction. If you cannot
find one with a debit card, you can make your withdrawals
using checks and keep the records yourself.

As an employee of a company, you’ll see your employer’s

contributions into the HSA on your W-2 at the end of the year.

Also, HSAs are not subject to COBRA continuation coverage

requirements. That means your employer doesn’t have to offer
the HSA as part of the COBRA package when you leave the
company (or are laid off, etc.)

I hope this chapter hasn’t been too technical. I’ve tried to

outline the details of an HSA in language easy to understand.
I’d just like to say that HSAs are a blessing to the self-
employed person, and that anyone who can get one should
surely do it.

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Step 3 – Health Off The Grid Account (HOTG
ACCOUNT) – Money to Pay for Holistic Health
A Health Off The Grid Account (HOTG ACCOUNT) is my
own invention. The Health Savings Account (HSA) is too
currently too restrictive for the health practices I recommend in
this book, so you’ll need another account for those expenses.

An HOTG ACCOUNT is nothing more than a bank savings

account, money market account or mutual fund. It has no
federal government protection, it is not tax deductible and it has
no restrictions on the types of services you can withdraw to use.

The amount you decide to deposit into your HOTG ACCOUNT

will depend on your decisions later in this book on the types of
health services you wish to use. If you think you will use
mostly holistic health services, you will deposit most of your
money into the HOTG ACCOUNT, and less money into the
HSA. If you think you will use Western medicine more than
holistic medicine, deposit most of your money into the HSA,
and only a little into the HOTG ACCOUNT.

Use the money in this account to pay for holistic health services
and products, including but not limited to:

• Traditional Chinese Medicine

• ayurvedic medicine (from India)
• yoga classes
• tai chi classes
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• martial arts classes
• fitness trainers
• herbs and vitamins
• homeopathy
• naturopathy
• health books
• massage therapy
• color, light and sound therapy
• psychology
• aromatherapy
• Bach flower essences
• Feldenkrais Method
• Alexander Technique
• energy work
• rolfing
• etc.

Can You Be Disciplined?

Remember, there are no restrictions on what you can use this
money for. And that might cause you a problem! If you are a
person who likes to spend money, you may feel entitled to dip
into your HOTG ACCOUNT for things unrelated to healthcare.

There are two solutions to this dilemma. The first is to resist the
urge. The second is to put the account in control of someone
else, and ask them to approve the expenses before they allow
the money to be spent. It may be possible to create a
relationship with a financial planner who is willing to do this
administration for you. Expect to pay for this service, and map

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out exactly what you want to allow and what you want ruled

I expect as the Health Off The Grid plan becomes more

popular, financial planners will create services to cater to clients
who want this type of help with their HOTG ACCOUNTs.

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Step 4 – Health Discount Card – Reduce the
Costs of Dental, Vitamins and Vision
The first three steps help you plan and pay for medical expenses
of all types, but they do not really address other concerns, like
dental and vision coverage.

For these types of coverage, a corporate employee may have an

option for insurance coverage. But a self-employed individual
or small business employee may have no such insurance

The best I can suggest here is to use a health discount card, like
the Healthy Advantage card from American Health Advantage
(www.ahahealth.com). The card costs $120 per year.

Dental and Vision

The Healthy Advantage card offers discounts on dental and
vision services and products, including:

• Dental
o regular cleanings (50% off)
o fillings (15% off)
o crowns and bridges (15%)
o orthodontics (15% off)
• Vision
o glasses and contacts (10-60% off)

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Vitamins, Herbs, Drugs, Hearing Aids, Holistic
This particular discount program also offer discounts on
prescription drugs (up to 50%), vitamins and herbs (up to 50%),
hearing aids (up to 50%) and certain holistic health services like
acupuncture, reflexology and massage (up to 30%).

This discount program really works. It isn’t some ripoff game,

it’s real. My wife and I use it all the time, especially for our
dental work. You need to stick to dentists, eyewear stores, and
holistic practitioners who are “in the network,” but that isn’t
very hard, since there are thousands of practitioners in this
network. If you are in or near a major city in the US, you won’t
have a problem finding someone. Even if you live in a more
remote area, you will still have at least some choice of
practitioners and stores.

Discounts like these are obviously nothing close to what a low

deductible insurance policy would offer, but that kind of
insurance is not affordable for the self-employed. So the
discount program is actually the only alternative for those
groups, and, as such, it does save money. With two people
getting dental cleanings every six months, a family will easily
recover the cost of the discount card.

Be careful about the alternative practitioners listed for the

health discount card. Essentially, when they signed up to belong
to the network, they agreed to offer lower priced services to
anyone who comes in with the card, usually 30-50% off. I have
run into some alternative practitioners who were regretting this
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agreement, and tried to shift me to other services or basically
forget about the discount that was due to me. I do not this think
is representative of the majority of alternative practitioners in
the network, but it is something you must watch out for and
demand your due if the situation arises.

The Decline of Discount Cards

There is a significant problem with the discount programs. In
the last few years, there have been more and more discount
programs, but there have been fewer and fewer providers who
belong to the programs. Make sure you have a look at the list of
providers in the discount program before you agree to join. For
instance, in Westerville, Ohio, the discount program I belong to
has lost every single dentist in our town. When you think about
it from the dentist’s perspective, it is only a matter of time
before a dentist will get tired of offering customers a large
discount on all services. When they begin to fill their practice
sufficiently, they are very likely to drop out of the discount

Discount programs are still worthwhile, just make sure the

network covers enough of your area that will ensure it’s usable
for you and your family.

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Step 5 – Car Insurance Rider – Get Your
Deductibles Paid For
A much overlooked health benefit actually hides in car
insurance policies. High deductible insurance policies are the
scariest in the face of a bad car accident, where one or more
family members might need extensive Western medical help in
an emergency situation. Injuries could be severe and costs could
add up very quickly.

Fortunately, many car insurance policies have a health

insurance rider available.

My advice is – TAKE IT!

This is an amazing value for people like us.

Here’s how it works.

If you require health insurance coverage resulting from a car

accident, the insurance company who supplies your car
insurance will cover your health insurance deductibles up to
a maximum set by you, at which point your health insurer will
take over.

Let me rephrase this. If you get in a car accident, you will not
pay your health insurance deductible ($2,500 as I’ve
suggested), instead, your car insurance company will pay it
for you.

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But this occurs only if you have the health insurance rider. The
important factor is to make sure your health insurance rider on
your car insurance matches or exceeds your deductible on your
health insurance policy. If it does not, you will still be
responsible for the shortfall.

The cost of this rider is low, somewhere between $5 and $15

per year for a family’s vehicles. Please make sure you have this

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Step 6 – Network of Practitioners – Find
Practitioners You Can Trust

The healthcare plan documented in this book can work if you

stay completely in the Western medical world. But I do not
recommend that.

First, let’s examine the costs of using Western medicine


Remember, now that you’re in “high-deductible

world,” you will be comparing the true cost of
Western medicine to the cost of other medical

A Western medical
doctor visit may cost
$100 for a 7 minute A naturopath is a holistic health
visit, assuming you practitioner who usually uses herbs,
haven’t yet met your vitamins, homeopathic remedies,
insurance deductible. hypnosis, meditation and other
practices to treat patients. A naturopath
is not licensed by a state medical board
An initial consultation (except in Washington state, California
to a naturopathic and a few other Western states).
doctor may cost $90
for 90 minutes. I’ll explain naturopathy more in the
Subsequent visits may section “Six Easy Systems!”
cost $50 for a 30-
minute appointment. Insurance will not apply to these costs.
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Western MD - $14.28 per minute

Naturopath - $1.00 per minute

With this cost difference, this means the Western MD should be

14 times more likely to diagnosis your issue, solve your health
problem, cure your disease and save your life.

First, let me explain why the costs difference is so huge. This is

NOT a case of the MD gouging their customers. Don’t fall into
that mental trap.

The MD has extremely high malpractice insurance premiums to

pay each year, often exceeding $100,000!! A naturopath has
much lower malpractice premiums, because their treatments are
much safer and not invasive (like surgery).

An MD has to deal with HMOs and insurance providers, which

boosts his overhead costs (admin staff, paperwork, etc.) to over
400% of the overhead a naturopath requires.

An MD is required by the American Medical Association

(AMA) to attend years of training at an expensive medical
college. A naturopath’s education may vary from several
months to several years, but would not be as extensive or
expensive as what the MD had to go through.

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The cost of the remedies the MD provides are extremely
expensive. The drugs they offer come from pharmaceutical
companies who must recoup their research and bureaucracy
costs from the patients who use them. The surgical techniques
offered by MDs are also extremely expensive, often running
into tens of thousands of dollars.

Naturopaths take a different approach. Their remedies are

almost completely non-patented natural remedies, like herbs,
vitamins and homeopathics. They ask their patients to do
certain exercises at home, or to use techniques like hypnosis or
meditation to overcome health problems.

The High-Deductible Discount

If you have a high-deductible health insurance policy instead of
no insurance at all, the picture changes. You can expect a 30-
50% discount on most services even for those services where
you are paying the entire amount yourself because you haven’t
used the yearly deductible yet. Just by having the service go
through your insurance company (and the cost coming right
back to you!) you will see significant discounts on Western
medical services. This is a result of the negotiated plans
between doctors, hospitals and insurance companies.

With a 30% discount, that 7 minute Western doctor visit will be

$70. You’ve save $30 over the regular price, but, of course, you
are still paying 10 times the cost of a naturopathic visit
(comparing cost-per-minute).

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Western MDs also have it tough in other areas. They are afraid
to try anything new, because of pressures from the malpractice
insurance companies, HMOs and state medical boards. If a
doctor tried a remedy that he thought was safer and more
effective on a patient, and it produced some unexpected results,
the patient could easily sue the doctor and win, and the health
insurer could easily rule out paying for the procedure. In fact,
MDs who do holistic health in addition to their regular practices
must separate the visits. This means you might visit the MD for
a physical exam, and pay for it through your health insurance.
But if you wanted to consult with them on an herbal remedy,
you would have to set up a separate appointment on a different
day, and make sure that that second appointment was not
connected to your previous insured appointment. This is true in
many US states.

For more on holistically-minded MDs, refer to my

book Doctors of the Future – Central Ohio MDs
and DOs Who Use Alternative and Integrative
Medicine (2004).

Put yourself in the shoes of the MD for a minute. You are

expected by the HMOs and malpractice authorities to use a
certain set of remedies, dangerous and expensive though they
may be. You know you would have a huge learning curve to
understand the holistic health world and all its remedies (herbs,
vitamins, homeopathics, aromatherapies, etc.). And you know if
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you tried any of them on your patients, you would be punished
by refusal of health insurance coverage and possibly sued if
anything happened. Why risk it??

For this reason, I think Western MDs will have a hard time
jumping into the holistic health world. They are disincented to
do so. Until that changes, I cannot see Western MDs leading us
into safer, more effective remedies, or even following us there.
This is not because MDs are bad people, but because they have
bigger hurdles to overcome than the rest of us do.

Have you ever wondered how MDs can stay healthy even
though their job puts them face-to-face with contagious
diseases every day? Many MDs are able to stay healthy because
they use natural remedies like herbs and homeopathics for
themselves that work to keep them healthy. They are
completely open to these remedies for themselves and their own
families, but they cannot use them in the medical setting
because the system would punish them for “being different.”
Who can argue with that logic?

The solution, of course, is not to try to “convince” Western

MDs of the value of natural remedies, because many of them
are already convinced. Doctors cannot act on the knowledge
they already have. The solution is to fix the system.

Fixing systems at a national, or even state, level takes time.

Years. So, while we are changing the system, this book offers
help for how people can afford to use the best remedies and still

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be covered for the big problems that Western medicine solves
so well.

The Family Practitioner

First, you must decide on your family practitioner. This is the
person who will be your “first line of defense” or the “traffic
cop” of the rest of the team. This person will know everything
that is going on with your family (or yourself) and will be
responsible for identifying overlaps or even dangers across

This person might be a Western MD. They might be a DO

(doctor of osteopathy). They might be a chiropractor.

My personal choice is a naturopath. We use a naturopathic

doctor as our “first line of defense” for all ailments, and if she is
unable to help us or she knows of another practitioner who
specializes in a certain issue, she will refer us elsewhere. Even
if we seek out other practitioners elsewhere, we always get back
to our naturopathic doctor to let her know what we are doing
health-wise, so she can counsel us if necessary. She is very
active with e-mail, so it is easy for us to give her frequent
updates and get her responses.

For me, there is no comparison between a Western MD and my

naturopathic doctor. My doctor costs much less, spends more
time with me, and sends me home with a bag full of slippery
elm, papaya mint, licorice root and St. John’s Wort, instead of
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drugs with unpronounceable names and labels full of worrying
side effects. But that is just my opinion. You need to decide for
yourself who you are most comfortable with.

It will be difficult to find the exact right family practitioner.

There are so many factors involved.

1. The personality of the practitioner must be a fit for you

and your family members. The person must be
trustworthy and friendly in your eyes.
2. The person must have the knowledge of the remedies you
want as your first line of defense. If you always want to
try herbs and vitamin therapy first, the family practitioner
should know the most about those. If you want to try
energy work first, the family practitioner should be
familiar and practice those modalities expertly.
3. The person must have a wide variety of knowledge and
connections with practitioners of other modalities. The
best situation is if the practitioner is connected with other
practitioners in the same clinic. Today, the “integrated
holistic clinic” is very hard to find, so do not expect this
unless you are very lucky.
4. The person’s biases should match your own. If the
practitioner is usually biased towards structural remedies
(chiropractic, osteopathic, Alexander Technique, etc.)
then they will usually tend to use and refer those
practices before any other. This isn’t so much because
they are money-hungry, but because their minds will
always lead them towards that which they know well. As

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far as I know, this is true of every family practitioner I’ve
5. The person should be more open-minded than you are. If
the practitioner is always chiding you or warning you not
to try anything outside a certain realm, you will not be
happy. But if they are gently leading you into some new
modalities that you may not have tried on your own, that
is the best situation.
6. The person must be accessible between appointments.
Many practitioners use e-mail to keep in touch with their
clients between appointments. You cannot imagine how
useful and comforting this is. Ask how often they check
their e-mail, and what, if anything, they charge to offer
you their e-mail service. If they charge nothing, thank
your lucky stars.
7. Consider the level of training you are comfortable with.
Don’t fall into the mental trap of “more years of training
is better.” Not so. I’ve been to many MDs with years of
training who could not hold a candle to a naturopath who
learned everything through correspondence school and
mentoring from other practitioners. Why? She cares,
they don’t. She listens, they don’t. She works with me fit
the dietary and exercise changes into my lifestyle, they

I need to warn you that your search for the right family
practitioner may be a long one. But it will be worth it.

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If you decide to use a Western MD, make sure they can
conform to all the criteria above. And realize that you will
usually pay more for Western MDs than you would for a
holistic practitioner like a naturopath or chiropractor. But you
must stick with the person and profession where you will feel
most comfortable, so don’t let your pocketbook dictate
something that your comfort level will reject.

The Rest of the Network

As I said, if your family practitioner is part of a clinic where the
practitioners know each other’s practices and how they
integrate, you’re in great luck! An integrated clinic like this
will be the choice of the future for the holistic client. However,
today they are very hard to find. You’ll probably have to create
your own “virtual clinic” of practitioners you know and trust.
You’ll also probably have to educate your family practitioner
about your choices, and get their input. The network of
practitioners you decide on must fit your own preferences,
conditions and beliefs.

For instance, I have a naturopathic doctor as my family

practitioner. She is my first line of defense when I have health
issues or questions. When I had digestion problems, she was
able to help me with a set of herbs, vitamins, stress
management and exercise suggestions. She also referred me to a
Chinese acupressure specialist who is well-known for helping
people with stress management.

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However, with a lower backache, she might accept my
suggestion to see a rolfer that I have had excellent results with
in the past. The rolfer would likely be able to resolve the
backache with a set of three appointments.

With a skin cancer question, my naturopath would undoubtedly

refer me straight to a dermatologist.

Naturopathic Pracs

TCM Pracs

Ayurvedic Pracs

Client First Line Structural Pracs

of Defense
• naturopath Energetic Pracs
• osteopath
• chiropractor
• TCM doctor
• ayurvedic doctor
• medical intuitive

For the flu, my naturopath might give me Oscillococcinum, a

homeopathic remedy known to help ease flu symptoms. She
might then suggest a series of chi gong classes to build up my
chi (life energy) to help my immune system fight off the flu
next time.

Without her acting as my first line of defense, I tend to get

myself in trouble. On the advice of a friend, I started to take a

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supplement called SeaSilvertm, which sounded like an excellent
replacement to my set of daily vitamins.

I noticed I was beginning to get digestive problems on the

SeaSilver more than I had before. I spoke to my naturopath
about it and she said that SeaSilver contains colloidal silver,
which is an antibiotic, and damages the lining of the gut if used
over a long period of time (more than 1-2 months). I would not
have known this without her help.

Your network of practitioners does not need to cover every

possible practice, that would be crazy. Instead, try to have at
least one known practitioner in each category:

• your family practitioner (Western MD, osteopath,

naturopath, chiropractor, etc.)
• structural (chiropractic, osteopathic, etc.)
• soft tissue (massage, rolfing, etc.)
• energy (reiki, polarity, etc.)
• movement arts teacher (yoga, aerobics, etc.)
• mind and emotions practitioner (meditation, psychology,
• nutrition and supplements (your naturopath may already
provide these)
• Western medicine (in addition to your family
practitioner if that person is not an MD)

Pick one practitioner for each major heading (structural, soft

tissue, energy, etc.). You may choose the practitioner first or the
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individual practice first, which ever you prefer. Have a
conference with each candidate practitioner in each major
heading to see if they are a fit for what you need.

You may decide that you do not wish to have a major heading
represented. Perhaps your religious beliefs prevent you from
allowing any type of energy work such as reiki or Healing
Touch on your body. In this case, you would rule out that
category of healing and not choose a practitioner.

You are obviously free to rule out any practice or category of

practices you wish. My personal advice to you is “don’t do it.”
Don’t rule out practices because they “sound weird” or you
think they might not fit with your religious beliefs. Talk to a
practitioner in that category first, then make your decision. You
might be surprised.

So You Wanna Stick with Western Medicine?

Maybe you’ve read this far, and you’ve decided that you are not
willing to try anyone other than a Western MD as your family
practitioner. Okay, it’s your choice. So let’s examine how you
can make that work financially, since the Western MD is more

Choose a Caring MD
Choose your Western MD based on all the criteria for choosing
a family practitioner stated previously. Also make sure that the

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MD is in your health insurance network, so you will receive
reduced fees.

A lot of people don’t realize that doctor’s fees are negotiable.

Talk to your chosen doctor about your financial situation and
see what type of arrangement you can both agree to. And
remember that every fee that goes through your insurance plan,
whether it is covered or part of your deductible that you pay, is
subject to a substantial discount already negotiated by the
insurance company, as long as it is considered medically
necessary by the insurance company.

You will need to schedule physical exams every one to two

years for each person in your family, depending on the costs.
Doctors recommend a physical checkup every year, but that
may not be affordable because the doctor visits are so expensive
for you with this plan.

Then, when you encounter specific illnesses, see your MD as

soon as possible. If you use hospital emergency facilities, you
will be spending your own money out-of-pocket until you hit
your deductible. That’s okay, it’s what you’ve planned for, but
if you overuse it you will use your HSA money up every year,
losing the opportunity to save that money for retirement.

Home Remedies For the Little Things

Seeing an MD for “every little sniffle” will quickly use up your
deductibles and your HSA. You may consider having a set of
natural remedies available to you at home. Putting this toolkit
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together will take research and advice from people
knowledgeable about home remedies like homeopathics, herbs,

So You Wanna Go Holistic?

If you’ve read this far in the book, you might have decided you
are willing to change your mind about healthcare, and you’re
willing to try holistic health practices.

Or, even better, you might already be using holistic health

services, and a reason for you buying this book was to find out
how to pay for them more easily.

Definition of Holistic Health

To define holistic health, I turn to the American Holistic
Medical Association (www.holisticmedicine.org):

1. Holistic physicians embrace a variety of safe, effective

options in the diagnosis and treatment, including a)
education for lifestyle changes and self-care, b)
complementary alternatives and c) conventional drugs
and surgery.
2. Searching for the underlying causes of disease is
preferable to treating symptoms alone.
3. Holistic physicians expend as much effort in establishing
what kind of patient has a disease as they do in
establishing what kind of disease a patient has.

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4. Prevention is preferable to treatment and is usually more
cost-effective. The most cost-effective approach evokes
the patient’s own innate healing capabilities.
5. Illness is viewed as a manifestation of a dysfunction of
the whole person, not as an isolated event.
6. A major determinant of healing outcomes is the quality of
the relationship established between physician and
patient, in which patient autonomy is encouraged.
7. The ideal physician-patient relationship considers the
needs, desires, awareness and insight of the patient as
well as those of the physician.
8. Physicians significantly influence patients by their
9. Illness, pain and the dying process can be learning
opportunities for patients and physicians.
10. Holistic physicians encourage patients to evoke the
healing power of love, hope humor and enthusiasm, and
to release the toxic consequences of hostility, shame,
greed, depression and prolonged fear, anger and grief.
11. Unconditional love is life’s most powerful medicine.
Physicians strive to adopt an attitude of unconditional
love for patients, themselves and other practitioners.
12. Optimal health is much more than the absence of
sickness. It is the conscious pursuit of the highest
qualities of the physical, environmental, mental,
emotional, spiritual and social aspects of the human

Is this the type of person you want? If so, then you want a
holistic health practitioner.
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So, holistic health is about treating the person as a whole

human being: mind, body and spirit. Holistic health practitioner
assume that there will be interactions between the mind, body
and spirit and that they should be able to understand those
interactions and help you deal with them.

Notice there’s nothing in the definition from the AHMA that

describes specific types of healing. Acupuncture, massage
therapy, chiropractic are not mentioned. Why not? Because
holistic healing does not relate to a specific type of treatment,
but instead the mindset that the practitioner uses when treating.
The mindset being that a patient is one mind, body and spirit.

However, certain modalities (healing practices) lend themselves

to the holistic health mindset and others do not.

What does it mean to “go holistic” as far as your family’s

healthcare is concerned? Here are a few points to consider:

Going holistic means:

• Accepting responsibility for one’s own health instead of

putting oneself “blindly into the hands” of a medical
• Taking a “safest, cheapest appropriate remedy first”
approach to all health events
• Taking steps to research each and every health issue that
comes up

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• Acknowledging that health issues usually have origins in
mind-body interactions or even in spiritual factors
• Being open-minded to health practices that “seem weird”
but get results for people
• Putting emphasis on prevention of disease rather than
• Understanding the difference between healing and

Let’s examine each of these points in more detail.

Accept Responsibility for Your Own Health

Going holistic is not for the faint of heart. The implication of
going holistic is that each individual takes responsibility for
their own health. Healing does not come from the outside, not
in the form of a pill, a doctor’s sage advice or a surgical

Healing comes from within. Holistic health strongly advocates

that patients heal themselves, that the body is a self-healing
instrument that needs only a few prerequisite conditions to
function properly. Once you and your health advisors create
those conditions, the body does all the healing by itself.

Many holistic health practitioners feel that the mind plays an

important part in the onset of a disease. Some people find this

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unacceptable. “You mean you want me to feel guilty for getting

But the focus of holistic health is not on assignment of guilt.

Instead, it is a fact of taking responsibility. Bernie Siegel points
out that patients who take responsibility for their own health,
rather than “putting it into their doctor’s hands” fare much
better in battling diseases (SIEGEL1990). The most
cantankerous patients in the hospital are the ones most likely to
survive, according to Dr. Siegel.

Assigning guilt is looking backward. Taking responsibility is

looking forward.

Healing comes from within.

Safest, Cheapest Appropriate Remedy First

Holistic remedies are usually much safer and cheaper than
Western medicine. This is largely because holistic remedies are
often taken from ancient practices around the world, especially
China and India. Time has tested these remedies so thoroughly
that many of the “side effects” common in Western medical
drugs and surgery are simply not present.

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Also, holistic remedies operate on subtler principles than
Western medicine. Holistic remedies like herbs, homeopathics,
aromatherapy, vitamin therapy, body work, energy work and
others work with the patients systems (body, mind and spirit) to
encourage healing. This process is much more subtle than the
Western medical approach, which is to introduce a chemical to
fight the body in some way to establish “control over nature.”
These remedies will always have to be much more strong and

Going holistic does not mean forsaking Western medicine.

Instead, it means taking intelligent steps in a program that starts
with safe, effective and inexpensive remedies first, and
progressing to more expensive, dangerous options only when
the first ones prove ineffective.

My wife’s approach to sinus headaches is a good example of

this process. She suffers from sinus headaches once or twice a
month when we get dramatic Ohio weather changes. First, she
uses an aromatherapeutic remedy called Sinus Relief by
ArcAncient which she rubs on her forehead and the bridge of
her nose. The remedy contains centella, tea tree, ravensara,
peppermint, eucalyptus and camomile. Three-quarters of the
time, this solves the headache and she goes on with her day.
But sometimes, it does not work. Then she moves to a
homeopathic remedy for sinus headaches, called Sinus Relief
by Natra-Bio. It contains a number of homeopathic
preparations. She puts a few drops under her tongue, and
usually this works. Again, in the few instances where neither of
these safe remedies work, she moves on to an over-the-counter
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sinus remedy called Sinutab Sinus Allergy Formula. In most
cases, this Western medicine takes care of the problem,
although sometimes not and she then needs to take a rest and
wait it out. As a result, she is taking the expensive Sinutab drug
with its side effects only about once every two years, a very
reasonable risk (except her packages of Sinutab keep expiring!).

Do Your Own Health Research

Going holistic means that you take responsibility for your own
health, and if you are going to do that, you’d better be well-

Fortunately, the tools to help you get informed on any type of

health issue are better than any other time in history. Your best
friend in health research is the Internet. The Internet has
singlehandedly empowered consumers to become their own
best source of healthcare information.

Like any best friend, though, the Internet has its dark side.
Misleading, irresponsible sources of information on the Internet
are everywhere. The best way to resolve this issue is to read
everything, but pay closest attention to Websites that are
produced by credible sources – healthcare institutions,
government agencies, reputable practitioners, quality news
sources (CNN, Washington Post, etc.). If in doubt, search on
the institution or practitioner. If you find them quoted
elsewhere in credible sources, you can probably trust them.
When you find a particular fact that you want to check out, use
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a process I call “triangulation.” See if you can find that fact
reported in at least two other places, worded differently. If you
can, you can be more sure (but not totally sure) of the original

Acknowledge Mind-Body-Spirit Interactions

Holistic health at its center is an acknowledgement that there is
more to a person’s health than what is working or not working
in the physical body. Holistic means treating a person as a
whole human being – body, mind and spirit. Issues in one area
influence the others, and diseases in the physical body are often
manifestations of issues that occurred in the mind or spirit.

Of course, there are levels to which people subscribe to the

holistic principle. People who are comfortable with “new age”
lifestyles might be able to handle the entire body-mind-spirit
paradigm. New age religions and ideals are certainly in
alignment with holistic health.

People from China, India or other Far East countries might have
an easy time accepting holistic health principles, since it comes
directly from these countries in the first place.

People who belong to Eastern religions will feel more

comfortable with holistic health in all its realms. Buddhists,
Hindus, Taoists and Kabbalists will have little problem
integrating their spiritual beliefs into their healthcare plan,
because those religions have done that effortlessly for
thousands of years.
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Other Americans might wince a little at the spiritual side of

health. Christians tend to prefer to keep their spirituality and
healthcare separate. This belief dates back to a tradition
established hundreds of years ago when René Descartes struck
a deal with the Catholic Church that he would limit his
philosophy to the physical body and the physical world if the
Catholic Church would agree not to persecute him. Since then,
Christians have stayed true to the split between the tangible and
intangible. “For a physical problem, I’ll go to the doctor. For a
spiritual problem, I’ll see my pastor/priest/rabbi.”

At the extreme, some Americans may feel that body, mind and
spirit must be kept separate from each other. The doctor treats
the body, the psychiatrist treats the mind and the
pastor/priest/rabbi treats the spirit. Someone who strongly feels
that all three must be kept separate, and that co-mingling one
with the other would be harmful to one’s religious beliefs, may
have trouble accepting holistic principles. A person will need to
accept at least mind-body interactions to prosper in a holistic
health system, interactions like:

• A person who is depressed after losing a loved one has a

reduced immune system and is therefore more
susceptible to colds, flu and other infections.
• Flying into a rage causes higher blood pressure, which
can lead to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
• Relaxing in a hot tub relaxes not only the body but also
the mind.

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A person would need to at least accept these mind-body
interactions to be open-minded enough toward holistic

Holistic health will work as much as you will let it. If you feel
that you could substitute vitamins and herbs for
pharmaceuticals, but you aren’t willing to look beyond that,
you’ll still benefit. Acknowledging mind-body interactions (if
you get depressed, you’re more likely to catch a cold, etc.) is a
big step towards a holistic mindset. Even ten years ago this
would have been a “fringe” way of thinking, but today it is
common to find Western doctors who are interested in how the
mind affects the body and vice versa.

NOTE: Please see the section on Holistic Health

for Christians for more information on this topic.

Be Open-Minded
Holistic health therapies open require an open mind. Because of
the nature of holistic health, scientific studies cannot measure
the effects of these therapies. A controlled scientific study
involves splitting patients into two groups, giving one group the
therapy under examination, and the other group a placebo
(usually a sugar pill). The scientists then measure the difference
between the “placebo effect” and the effect of the therapy under
examination (usually a drug).

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Imagine trying to do this with massage. How do you do a
“placebo massage” where the patient thinks they’re getting a
massage but they’re really not? How do you fake an aroma?
How do you do a placebo-based study on “eat more

“How do you study a placebo massage??”

Also, a big hindrance to controlled studies of holistic health

practices has been the cost. Pharmaceutical companies can fund
controlled studies (which often cost into the millions of dollars)
because they can recoup the costs by selling the drugs at high
prices once the studies have proven the drug successful. But
who would want to fund holistic health research? Who holds
the patent? No one, of course. So it does not make financial
sense to study these therapies. Surprisingly, some research
institutions are studying herbal remedies in a controlled,
scientific manner, but there is still no financial impetus behind
large scale studies of these remedies, and there probably never
will be.

The holistic health client must be open-minded towards

therapies. Try it, maybe you’ll like it. Remember, you now
have money set aside each month to spend on holistic therapies.
Use that money to experiment on interesting-sounding therapies
that might help you in some way. If it’s too weird for you, don’t
go back. But if you think there might be something there, try it
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again. Most holistic therapies require a series of sessions to be
effective. For
instance, Choose a holistic family
acupuncture can
sometimes practitioner who is more
accomplish results open-minded towards new
in one session, but modalities than you are.
more often it
requires five to ten
sessions to help a client with some specific health issue.
Chiropractors are famous for demanding their client return
again and again for treatment, but there is really validity in their

Maybe it doesn’t make sense to be adjusted three times a week

for six months, but it may be useful (and affordable!) to see the
chiropractor once a week for two months. Remember, in
holistic health, you are in charge of how the treatment proceeds.

If you find that you tend always toward structural remedies

(chiropractic, osteopathic, rolfing, etc.), use some of your
money to experiment with other modalities (soft tissue, energy
work, etc.).

Also, choose a family practitioner who is more open-minded

than you are. This will help you continue to broaden your
horizons further each doctor visit, rather than trying to fight a
practitioner who encourages you to stay in a narrow range of
treatment (Western medicine, structural care, etc.).

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Emphasize Prevention
Holistic healthcare embodies another powerful concept:
wellness. Western medicine is, in fact, not a healthcare system
but a sickness care system. It is focused on curing disease, not
on preventing it.

Wellness is a concept with two parts. First, it says, “An ounce

of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Taking steps when a
person is not sick is infinitely cheaper and more effective than
waiting until one is ill and then trying to reverse the sickness

The second part of wellness is more subtle. It says that there is

no upper limit to health. Health is not simply a lack of disease,
but something that a person can build up and up so that moving
is effortless, relationships are loving and living is a joy,
Wellness is a mindset that a person can work with, not only
staying well, but working towards achieving “optimum health.”

In practice, this means incorporating daily rituals that help

maintain and increase health: taking walks, vitamins at meals,
eating right, exerting control over one’s emotions, meditation,

Wellness takes strength of character and will. Taking steps to

regain health after an illness is much easier than taking steps to
stay well, or achieve optimum health.

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Understanding the Difference Between Healing
and Curing
A Western doctor might not differentiate between healing and
curing. But a holistic practitioner likely will.

In holistic healthcare, healing can occur without curing. To give

some definitions to each:

Curing is getting rid of physical symptoms.

Healing is taking a patient to a new state where

body-mind-spirit are operating at a higher level.

For example, a patient who has brain cancer may have only
days to live. An energy worker may do some work on the
person that gives them hope and happiness in their final days.
The patient does die, so no cure was given. However, their last
days were infinitely more pleasant than they would have been,
so healing occurred.

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Differences Between Western Medicine and Holistic

It’s worthwhile to look at the major differences between

Western medicine and holistic healthcare. This table shows
some differences in approach, philosophy and application.

Western Medicine Holistic Health

Focuses on measurements and Focuses on experience

Body as a machine that needs Body has innate healing

to be fixed capability

Classified diagnosis Specific individual needs

Curative Preventive

Practitioner as authority Practitioner as educator

Speed, comfort, convenience Restoration, regeneration,

Best for infectious diseases, Best for degenerative, chronic
trauma, organ failure stress and lifestyle issues

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Symptom/Syndrome/Tonic in Western Medicine

Here is a normal diagnosis cycle in Western medicine. You
experience a set of symptoms; let’s say dizziness, double-
vision, some muscle spasms in your legs and slight depression.
Your doctor discusses your concerns briefly and then runs a set
of tests and declares, “You have multiple sclerosis (MS).” Now
you know what you have. Then he tells you your choices of
treatments, and you pick one. There is no cure for MS, so you
need to learn how to live with it and not let it kill you, which it

The symptoms were the dizziness, double-vision, etc. The

syndrome (literally a bundle of symptoms) is MS. The tonic is
the set of treatments you decide to use, probably a lot of drugs,
stay away from certain foods, etc.

Symptom/Cause/Therapy in Holistic Medicine

A holistic health practitioner is very likely to follow a different
path. They will probably use a symptom/cause/therapy cycle.

The holistic practitioner will discuss your symptoms in great

detail, usually for thirty to ninety minutes, depending on what is
happening in your life. They will be interested in not only the
presence physical symptoms (dizziness, muscle spasms, etc.)
but also their character. When does the dizziness happen? What
usually happens preceding it? How does it make you feel when
it happens? Is there throbbing in your head when it occurs? Has
it ever caused you to fall over?
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By asking these questions, the holistic practitioner is looking

for the cause. The cause might be emotional (“whenever my
husband and I have a fight”), physical or dietary (“whenever I
get up off a chair or eat sweets”) or spiritual (“attachment of a
dead father’s spirit”).

Once you and the practitioner agree on a cause, you can both
explore treatment options, which will match the cause
(emotional, physical, dietary, spiritual, etc.). It is quite likely
there will be multiple causes, crossing the mind-body-spirit
boundaries. Perhaps it will include some dietary changes,
physical exercises, hypnosis, herbs, any of a variety of

Why does the holistic health practitioner skip the syndrome

step? There are several reasons.

1. A disease is a box. Declaring a person is a “victim of

MS” puts them into a neat little box that is very
convenient for the physician but not at all desirable for
the person. The physician cannot help but look at them as
a “disease” instead of a “person.” The label
depersonalizes the treatment from that point on.
Politically correct terms which change “epileptic” to “a
person with epilepsy” sound ridiculous, but they are a
weak attempt to put the person first and the disease
second. Holistic health is a more powerful way to put the
person first.

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2. Self-fulfilling prophecies. Diseases act differently in
different people, often dramatically so. Trying to predict
how a disease or syndrome will progress in a particular
person often isn’t accurate, and is never helpful in giving
a person hope in overcoming their condition. Self-
fulfilling prophecies take over and the person watches for
any little sign that they are getting worse in the particular
way the doctor assumed they would.
3. Legal restrictions. Holistic health practitioners are
legally restricted from making a diagnosis in many US
states. Western medical doctors consider this their sole
responsibility, and they are very fearful of allowing
people who are not trained in Western medicine to make
declarations about diseases and syndromes.

Ancient Care is the Best Care

In my experience, I’ve found an effective way to evaluate
holistic health practices that I’d like to share:

I trust treatments based on how many decades or

centuries they’ve been tested in real life.

Therefore, if something like acupuncture has been used in the

same way for thousands of years in China, I am very inclined to
believe it works. However, if someone has invented a new tonic
that they say will accomplish various health goals, I am less
inclined to believe it until I’ve seen it in use for years and
creating results for people.

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I don’t need to see controlled studies to prove that Chinese
medicine works. All I need to see if that a nation of billions of
people rely on it and have used it for a long, long time. What
controlled study could come close to that assurance?

Western Medicine’s Big Excuse for Not Going

Closed-minded Western medical practitioners usually try to
point to the handful of holistic treatments that have a bad
reputation in an effort to paint the entire realm of holistic
healthcare. Ephedra can be tangentially linked to 155 deaths in
the past few years. Kava kava is said to be linked to forty

First, any of these substances taken to an extreme will cause

problems, even death. There have been several reports of
college hazings occuring where a fraternity freshman has been
forced to drink huge quantities of water, resulting in vomiting
and death. Water! So proving that herbal remedies can cause
death when taken in great quantities does not prove much.

Second, it’s interesting to compare these figures against deaths

from pharmaceuticals. Every year, more than one hundred
thousand people die from receiving the right drug, in the right
dosage at the right time. Compare 100,000 to 155. And realize
that this huge figure does not count overdoses of
pharmaceuticals, whereas all the figures for herbals are due to
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Ask a Western medical doctor who is not open-minded to

holistic treatments, and he’ll probably give you this response:

“Although many holistic remedies cannot be proven as

dangerous, they really are. People who get diverted into
using holistic treatments are wasting valuable time and
allowing their condition to progress by not getting
Western medical treatment sooner.”

But there’s a flipside to this excuse. What if a person began

using Western medicine, and it didn’t work, and they died?
Couldn’t you say they should have tried holistic treatments, in
retrospect? And that they were wasting their time with Western
medicine and causing their own death by making that choice?
The excuse is nonsensical in both directions.

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The Holistic Health Practices
There is no way I could document all the holistic health
practices in one book – too many!! However, I will attempt to
list the most popular practices in North America and give you
enough information for you to decide whether it might be worth

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Holistic Practices

Entire Health Systems

Practice Short Description Find More Here
ayurveda a vast system of diet, http://www.everydayayurveda.org
movement (yoga), astrology,
body types, herbs, massage,
arrangement of objects, etc.
naturopathy not a specific therapy but a www.aanp.com
grouping of therapies done or
managed by one practitioner,
often includes: herbs,
vitamin therapy, homeopathy,
hypnosis, exercise, massage,
Traditional a vast system of diet, http://www.spineuniverse.com/displayarticle.php/article
Chinese movement (chi gong), 829.html
Medicine treatments (acupuncture),
(TCM) herbs, massage (tui na),
arrangement of objects (feng
shui), etc.

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Diagnostic Techniques
Practice Short Description Find More Here
applied using muscle strength to http://www.kinesiology.net/kinesiology.asp
kinesiology determine sensitivities to
substances and emotions
Chinese pulse using the characteristics of a http://www.chinesemedicinesampler.com/diagnostic_met
diagnosis person’s pulse to determine hods__pulse_diagno.htm
health issues

Chinese using the characteristics of a http://www.chinesemedicinesampler.com/diagnostic_met

tongue person’s tongue to determine hods__tongue_diagn.htm
diagnosis health issues
electro-dermal using a computer program to http://www.circleofhealth.ca/meridians.htm
screening determine weaknesses in a
person’s energy pathways,
also called meridian stress
Nambudripad a combination of applied http://www.naet.com/subscribers/index.html
Allergy kinesiology and
Elimination acupressure/acupuncture to
Technique eliminate sensitivities to any
(NAET) allergen (animal hair, eggs,
milk, peanuts, latex, ragweed,
Touch for using muscle strength to http://www.touch4health.com
Health determine sensitivities to
substances and emotions

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Energy Work
Practice Short Description Find More Here
acupressure pressing fingers on the body http://health.yahoo.com/health/
at certain points to restore the alternative_medicine/alternative_therapies/Acupressure/
flow of energy (“chi”)
through the body
acupuncture use of small needles in the www.acupuncture.com
skin to restore the flow of
energy (“chi”) through the
amplified using prayer to heal self and www.amplifiedprayer.com
prayer therapy others heal
Bach flower taking the essences of specific www.bachcentre.com
essences flowers to help with a wide
variety of emotional issues
Bowen using hands and fingers on www.boweninfo.com
Technique the skin to harmonize
vibrational energy
color therapy viewing colors to resolve www.healing.about.com/od/colortherapy/
physical and emotional issues

crystal healing using crystals (rocks) to www.members.aol.com/SovSpec/healpage.htm

change a person’s vibration
and encourage opening and

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Practice Short Description Find More Here

Healing Touch subtle energy healing done by www.healingtouch.net
touching the hands gently on
the body and generating a
flow of energy
homeopathy taking extremely diluted www.homeopathic.org
substances to resolve health
issues, uses a “like cures like”
principle, operates on a
vibrational level with the
person and the disease

Kolaimni North American Indian www.theresacloudeagle.com/pages/2/

energy work, using hands to
heal a person’s energy
magnetic using magnetic fields to treat www.painx2000equinetherapy.com/magnet_bio.htm
therapy a variety of physical and
emotional conditions,
including circulatory
problems, certain forms of
arthritis, chronic pain, sleep
disorders and stress
Mentastics simple exercises done at www.trager.com
home to reinforce the
subconscious messages from
Trager Work

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Practice Short Description Find More Here

metamorphic pressing fingers on points on www.innersearchcentre.com/metamorphictechnique.htm
technique the body to restore the flow of
energy (“chi”) through the
moxibustion use of small needles and heat www.acupuncture.com
from burning herbs to restore
the flow of energy (“chi”)
through the body
polarity combination of Chinese and www.polaritytherapy.org
Indian techniques of body and
energy work
reflexology pressing fingers on points in www.reflexology.org/
the hands, feet and ears to
restore the flow of energy
(“chi”) through the body
reiki subtle energy healing done by www.reiki.org/FAQ/WhatIsReiki.html
touching the hands gently on
the body and generating a
flow of energy (“chi”)
Therapeutic subtle energy healing done by www.therapeutictouch.com
Touch touching the hands gently on
the body and generating a
flow of energy

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Practice Short Description Find More Here

Trager Work using the hands to gently www.trager.com
knead and stretch the body to
reprogram the subconscious
into a pain-free state
zero balancing changing a person’s energy www.zerobalancing.com/aboutzb.shtml
by realigning the foundation

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Mind and Emotions

Practice Short Description Find More Here
art therapy allowing a person to express www.arttherapy.org
themselves through art to
improve healing
biofeedback using feedback of bodily www.psychotherapy.com/bio.html
signals (brain waves,
heartbeat, skin temperature,
etc.) to change behavior
biorhythms charting the rhythms of a www.bio-chart.com
person’s emotional,
intellectual and physical
abilities to identify issues and
find treatment
dreamwork interpreting dreams to resolve www.sleeps.com/dreams.html

group therapy using the support of other www.agpa.org

people with similar problems
to overcome issues
hypnotherapy putting a person in a www.hypnosis-information.com
meditative state to resolve
physical or emotional issues
light therapy using sunlight or simulated http://www.wholehealthmd.com/refshelf/substances_vie
sunlight to treat emotional w/0%2c1525%2c713%2c00.html

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Practice Short Description Find More Here

meditation quieting the mind to connect www.aworldofgoodhealth.com/meditationinfostart.htm
with the universe at a spiritual

music therapy using music (mostly classical) www.musictherapy.org

to reduce stress and improve
neurolinguistic changing a person’s www.nlpinfo.com
programming psychological programming
(NLP) to reduce fear, stress and
palm therapy programming the mind www.palmtherapy.com/
through the palms of a
person’s hands
psychotherapy using techniques from Freud www.aboutpsychotherapy.com
and Jung to probe
psychological issues and
resolve them
sound therapy using the vibration of sound www.health-doc.com/soundtherapy.html
to facilitate healing

visualization creating visions in a www.cornerstone.wwwhubs.com/gawain2.htm

meditative state to overcome
physical or emotional issues

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Movement Arts
Practice Short Description Find More Here
aikido gentle martial art used for www.aikidoschool.org/What%20is%20Aikido.html
self-defense and personal
chi gong Chinese energy system www.nqa.org/qigong.html
including martial arts,
meditation and energy work
dance therapy using dance to improve www.adta.org
flexibility and mood

fitness training using aerobic exercise and www.fitness.gov

weight training to increase
muscle, reduce fat and
enhance mental and physical
Nia technique “neuromuscular integrative www.nia-nia.com
action” – combination of
workout and dance to
improve health
shaolin kung martial art to develop the www.shaolin.com
fu physical body, promote
emotional and spiritual
tai chi slow Chinese martial art with www.thetaichisite.com
physical and spiritual aspects

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Practice Short Description Find More Here

yoga stretching movements and www.americanyogaassociation.org/general.html
poses with physical and
spiritual, meditative aspects

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Nutrition and Supplements

Practice Short Description Find More Here
macrobiotic changing one’s diet to a http://health.yahoo.com/health/alternative_medicine/alter
diet Japanese style diet – brown native_therapies/Macrobiotic_Diet/
rice, seaweed, completely
aromatherapy using smells to encourage www.naha.org/AboutAromatherapy.htm
healing, either through the
nose or through the skin

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Practice Short Description Find More Here
apitherapy using bee stings to help heal www.apitherapy.org/
problems like arthritis and
nerve damage
Bates Method exercises for increasing www.seeing.org
vision without glasses or

ear candling using smoke from candles to www.healing.about.com/od/earcandling/

remove wax from a person’s
ear and release tension
holistic incorporating homeopathy, www.holisticdentist.com
dentistry nutrition and acupuncture into
dentistry, also avoid mercury
fillings and using the teeth as
acupoints for the body
hydrotherapy cold compresses www.hydrotherapy.com
(cryotherapy), freeze sprays,
ice, sitz baths, whirlpools to
reduce inflammation and
solve various health issues
flotation a sensory isolation flotation www.oceanfloatrooms.com/floatation_tanks-medical.htm
therapy tank used to reduce stress and
enhance meditation

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Practice Short Description Find More Here

LaStone using alternating hot and cold http://www.lastonetherapy.com
therapy stones on the body to promote
relaxation and healing
prolotherapy injections of sugar water and http://www.consciouschoice.com/issues/cc1612/prolother
anesthetic into a joint to apy1612.html
relieve chronic pain

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Soft Tissue Body Work

Practice Short Description Find More Here
breema rhythmic body work and www.breema.com
do-in self-help massage combined www.rianvisser.nl/shiatsu/e_doin.htm
with macrobiotic diet
Indian head massage with oil into a http://mysite.freeserve.com/earcandle/page4.html
massage person’s head to rebuild
energy pathways, relieve
stress and promote healthy
hair growth

Lomi-Lomi working on a person’s http://www.turtleislandfiji.com/activities/lomilomi.php

muscles and bones by
walking on them, adjusting
bones and massaging
shiatsu a meditative type of body http://www.shiatsu1.com/files/sdefi.htm
massage massage focusing on the
acupressure points
Swedish the most familiar “therapeutic www.spas.about.com/cs/massagetherapy/1/aa030199.htm
massage massage” in North America,
encouraging blood flow and
healing through massage
trigger point massage technique focusing www.tpmyotherapy.com/
myotherapy on nerve endings, also called

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Practice Short Description Find More Here

watsu shiatsu massage done in water www.watsu.com/
with the person floating in the
arms of the practitioner

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Practice Short Description Find More Here
Alexander teaching a person new ways www.alexandertechnique.com/
Technique to sit and move in ways to
improve breathing, speech
and overall well-being
chiropractic high velocity manipulations http://www.chiroweb.com/find/whatis.html
to the spine and neck to
restore overall healing
cranial gentle manipulations of the www.osteopathonline.com/cranial.htm
osteopathy bones of the skull to restore a
person’s healing system
craniosacral gentle touch at the back of the www.craniosacral.com
skull and the bottom of the
spine to enhance overall well-
being, often resulting in
emotional releases during
Feldenkrais deepening a person’s http://www.feldenkrais.com/method/index.html
Method awareness of movement to
improve posture and healing
Hellerwork realigning the body to www.hellerwork.com
increase mobility and overall
McTimoney a gentler form of chiropractic www.mctimoney-chiropractic.org/mca.htm

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Practice Short Description Find More Here

naprapathy using the hands to move a http://www.naprapathicmedicine.com/what.htm
person’s connective tissue
(ligaments, fascia, etc.) to
improve health or resolve an
network spinal gentle touch at the back of the http://www.networkspinal.com/wave.htm
analysis skull and the bottom of the
spine to enhance overall well-
osteopathy changing the skeleton and www.osteopathic.org
muscles to encourage better
blood flow and movement
physiatry physical medicine and http://www.physiatry.org/field/index.html
rehabilitation, a variety of
techniques to help the person
by making physical
adjustments and massage
rolfing using the hands and elbows to www.rolf.org/about
move the fascia, tissue
wrapping the muscles, to
create better posture and
overall well-being

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Six Easy Systems

Holistic health as an entire field is completely overwhelming.
There are so many unique practices that one could choose from.
Each promises to fix the problem you have, but who’s to say?
And if one doesn’t work, which one should you pick next?

As we’ve said, you need to first concentrate on getting the

family practitioner, a person who is your first line of defense
for all health issues.

Each family practitioner will have a bias towards one or another

“system” of healthcare. Here are a few of those systems, to help
you decide which one might suit you best.

Naturopathic System
In a naturopathic system, your first line of defense is a
naturopathic doctor.

1. Focuses on safe, effective tonics and therapies

2. Uses remedies from a variety of sources, including
Chinese, Indian, North American and European
3. Doctor will spend a lot of time with you to discover
the symptoms and conditions of your health issues
4. Usually underemphasizes energy medicine like reiki,
Healing Touch, etc.
5. Two types of naturopathic doctors, one associated
with the American Association of Naturopathic
Physicians (AANP) and the other associated with the
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American Naturopathic Medical Association
a. AANP naturopathic doctors have been through
years of training in one of five schools in the
US that are similar to Western medical schools,
with strong emphasis on knowledge of the
body, diseases, herbs, vitamins, homeopathy
and hypnosis
b. ANMA naturopathic doctors can have any of a
wide range of training levels, and may be
limited in one of many medical systems
(Chinese, Indian, etc.)
c. In summary, with the AANP, you know what
you’re getting, which is a Western medicine-
friendly doctor experience, except with much
more attention and with safer, more natural
remedies. With the ANMA, you might get very
good, well-trained naturopaths, or you might
get someone with very little knowledge. It is
not fair to say the AANP practitioner is better
than someone belonging to the ANMA, there
are excellent doctors in both organizations.

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Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) System

Your first line of defense in Traditional Chinese Medicine
(TCM) is a TCM doctor, often called an acupuncturist. You
will want someone who is familiar with much more than just
acupuncture. Tui na (Chinese massage) and Chinese herbs are
two of the many other aspects of TCM.

1. TCM uses the thousands of years of knowledge in

successful Chinese medical practice.
2. TCM is a complete medical system including
understanding the body, mind and spirit, diseases,
energy medicine, movement and therapies.
3. The most well-known TCM practice is acupuncture,
inserting thin, small needles into the skin to change
the flow of energy through the body.
4. TCM includes acupuncture, acupressure, chi gong, tai
chi, tui na (massage), herbal medicine, feng shui and
many other practices in a total integrated practice.
5. TCM doctors always use a set of herbs to treat a
person, never just one particular herb or extract, they
believe the interaction between the herbs is where the
solution arises.
6. The TCM doctor will spend a lot of time with you to
discover the symptoms and conditions of your health
7. TCM doctors can come from several sources. There
are reputable TCM schools in North America,
including the American Institute of Alternative
Medicine (www.aiam.edu) in Columbus, Ohio. These
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schools train students for years to understand the
details of the Chinese medical approach. Another type
of TCM doctor is a Western medically-trained doctor
who has branched into Chinese medicine. The
Western doctor requires less training that the TCM
specialist, weeks instead of years. Again, a larger
number of years in training do not automatically
translate directly into a better doctor, but you should
be aware of the training your TCM practitioner has
and where it came from.
8. Most states regulate TCM doctors in some way, and
some insurance policies cover TCM treatments
(specifically acupuncture) if a Western doctor
approves it as medically necessary.
9. Americans who are threatened by non-Christian
spiritual traditions may not enjoy being clients of
TCM. It is sometimes difficult to separate the spiritual
from the non-spiritual in TCM.

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Ayurvedic System
Your first line of defense in the ayurvedic system is an
ayurvedic doctor, trained in India or even in American
ayurvedic schools, like Deepak Chopra’s Center in California.

1. Ayurveda uses the thousands of years of knowledge in

successful Indian medical practice.
2. Ayurveda means the “knowledge of life,” so it is a
complete system for living a human life, not just
3. Within ayurveda is a complete medical system
including understanding the body, mind and spirit,
diseases, energy medicine, movement and therapies.
4. The most well-known ayurvedic practice is yoga, a
movement art which helps people increase their
energy levels, flexibility, health and well-being.
5. TCM includes yoga, ayurvedic herbs, Indian massage,
astrology and many other practices in a total
integrated practice. It is said that TCM was borrowed
from the Indian ayurvedic traditions many thousands
of years ago, and since then each has evolved
6. Ayurvedic doctors always use a set of herbs to treat a
person, never just one particular herb or extract, they
believe the interaction between the herbs is where the
solution arises.
7. The ayurvedic doctor will spend a lot of time with you
to discover the symptoms and conditions of your
health issues.
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8. Most states do not regulate nor recognize ayurvedic
practitioners. Insurance policies do not cover
ayurvedic practices.
9. Americans who are threatened by non-Christian
spiritual traditions may not enjoy being clients of
ayurveda. It is sometimes difficult to separate the
spiritual from the non-spiritual in ayurveda.

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Structural System
In a structural system, your first line of defense will be an
osteopathic doctor or a chiropractor. Some massage therapists
are knowledgeable enough to play this role for you as well.

1. Structural systems include chiropractic, osteopathy,

rolfing, massage therapy, naprapathy and others.
These systems are based on the idea that illness results
from imbalanced structure of the body, including the
spine, head, overall posture or muscles.
2. Structural doctors will spend a lot of time with you
understand your health issues.
3. Most structural systems originated in the US.
4. Most structural doctors will specialize in one of the
systems, usually not more than one. To their structural
system (say, chiropractic) they will usually add at-
home exercises, massage therapy, herbal remedies and
vitamins. The structural systems are not entire
medical systems in themselves, the way TCM and
ayurveda are.
5. Structural systems include some form of diagnosis, if
only viewing a person’s posture and making
adjustments according to visible imbalances.
6. Americans who are threatened by non-Christian
spirituality will usually have no problem with any of
the structural systems. Most structural practitioners do
not include heavy spiritual systems into their work
(although some certainly do).

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Energetic System
In an energetic system, your first line of defense will be a
medical intuitive. This is a person with psychic abilities who
can see physical, emotional and spiritual issues in a person and
can even sometimes suggest possible remedies.

1. Most energy systems use hands-on energy healing to

resolve health issues. Energy systems include reiki,
Brennan energy work, Bruyere energy work, Healing
Touch, Therapeutic Touch and many others.
2. Energy workers will tend to communicate with your
body at an energetic level instead of asking you a lot of
questions about your health. They will certainly ask some
things, but not as many as the other systems listed above.
3. Energy systems originate from all over the world, but
mostly come from the Far East (India, China, Tibet, etc.).
Some were founded in the US, although those usually
took their basis from the Far East as well.
4. Americans who are threatened by non-Christian spiritual
traditions may feel quite uncomfortable with an energy
worker. Energy work is not necessarily spiritually based,
but there is always an element of the “unseen” to energy
work that may make the more traditional American feel
out of place.

Health Insurance Off the Grid
Western Medical System
Your first line of defense in the Western medical system is the
family MD.

I’ve already said most of what I can say about the Western
medical system and its pros and cons. The family MD will ably
refer you to any of a variety of specialists in the Western
medical realm.

Health Insurance Off the Grid

Holistic Healthcare for Christians

Sometimes I hear from my friends that they are not interested in
holistic health practices because “I’m a Christian.”

This is understandable. Visions of dancing mystics, crystal ball

readers and voodoo can cloud a Christian’s view of holistic

Let’s examine the root of this feeling that Christianity is

separate from holistic health.

Since holistic health is, by definition, dealing with the mind,

body and spirit, there may be situations where the holistic
practitioner crosses into territory typically thought of as the
property of “religion,” or the spirit part of the holistic picture.

The Christians I know seem to deal with mind, body, spirit

health issues in a particular way. Raised as a Lutheran, I’ve
seen this pattern.

My doctor is in charge of my physical health.

My psychologist helps me with my mental health.

My pastor (rabbi, priest) guides me in my spiritual


Health Insurance Off the Grid
This seems to work well when the problem is limited to one of
those domains – strictly physical, strictly mental or strictly

In holistic health, there is an assumption that many, if not all,

health problems cross the boundaries between physical, mental
and spiritual. When this occurs in a person’s life, the segmented
view of healthcare breaks down. The pastor can’t tell you how
your feeling of spiritual disconnection relates to a reduced
immune system, and your doctor can’t explain how your
osteoporosis is connected to your stress in your marriage.

Each holistic health practitioner will take a different approach

to the body-mind-spirit interaction. All holistic practitioners
will acknowledge that we need to take all three into account
when examining a health issue, however each will start in their
own particular place and work outward to their own limits.

For instance, a chiropractor may begin with the physical:

“You have a subluxation in your back which I need

to adjust.”

Then he will discuss what is going on in your life, stresses in

your family life and work and how that is affecting your mental

“Subluxations sometimes come on when we are

stressed. What has happened lately that has been
bothering you?”
Health Insurance Off the Grid

Then, he may gingerly tiptoe into the spiritual realm, asking

questions about a person’s feeling of fulfillment in their life:

“Do you feel like you’re in the right job, that you’re
really pursuing your true calling?”

This would be a chiropractor who delves into all three realms

but would probably be acceptable to a Christian patient. The
last two questions may seem like strange questions for a
chiropractor to be asking, but if the chiropractor takes a holistic
viewpoint of their patients, they must venture into these areas to
understand the causes of the physical symptoms.

Evaluating Practitioners as a Christian

How can you tell whether a holistic practitioner will be a good
fit for your religious beliefs?

Here are four questions you can ask the practitioner before you
book your first appointment:

1. May I ask what your religion is? (There is nothing

illegal about asking this, since this person is not an
2. How much do you feel your religion (or spirituality)
affects your treatment of patients?
3. Which of your services has the most connection to
your religion or spirituality and which services has
the least?
Health Insurance Off the Grid
4. Would you be willing to “leave your religion at the
door” when we have our session in order to make me,
the patient, comfortable?

Holistic health practitioners belong to every religion: Catholic,

Methodist, Lutheran, Anglican, Buddhist, Hindu, Hare Krishna,
Taoist, Christian Scientist, etc.

The practitioner may also answer that they are not religious,
only “spiritual.” In the next section, I’ll explain the difference
between religion and spirituality.

Use these four questions and you’ll be on your way to selecting

a practitioner who fits with your religious perspective or at least
one who will not intrude upon it.

Differences Between Religion and Spirituality

In holistic health, the topic of spirituality seems to be ever-
present. Many of the practitioners feel that diseases originate in
the spirit, and only later do they manifest themselves into the
mind and the body if the spirit is left untended.

Here are some definitions of religion and spirituality that may

help clarify what the difference is.

Religion teaches that there is one truth that applies to


Health Insurance Off the Grid
Spirituality means that each person must find their own

If you believe strongly that there is “one truth” as explained by

a particular religion, you will probably reject the idea of many
truths for many people. That’s okay. Just find a holistic
practitioner who reflects the same truth (religion) as you feel
strongly about, or a practitioner who keeps their own
religion/spirituality out of their healthcare practice. There are
many practitioners who have chosen to keep religion and
spirituality out of how they care for their patients, and these
will be the best choices for the strongly religious person.

Mind and Body – Really Separate?

Mind-body interactions are well known and heavily studied in

If I am under stress at work, I’m much more likely to catch the

cold that’s going around the office than if I’m relaxed and

If someone makes me angry, my heart rate goes up, my blood

pressure rises, my shoulders get tense and I find it harder to
concentrate on things.

For many years, Western doctors tried to assert that the mind
and the body could be kept separate, and must be kept separate.

Health Insurance Off the Grid
But the Western medical community no longer clings to this
belief. And we shouldn’t either.

Where did this belief originate? It goes back to the 1600’s when
a philosopher named Rene Descartes struck a deal with the
Catholic church. Descartes had watched the Church persecute
his contemporaries Johannes Kepler and Galileo for creating
theories that went against Catholic beliefs. He wanted to avoid
their fates and so he approached the Church with a compromise.
He said that he would create theories that dealt only with the
physical anatomy, and he would studious avoid anything
dealing with the human spirit or the mind. These latter two
would be the exclusive realm of the Church. The Church was
agreeable with this and so Descartes’ negotiation was the
beginning of the line of thinking that separated body from mind
and spirit.

In the past one hundred years, however, Descartes’ deal has

proven to be troublesome in many areas of human biology and
physics. Cartesian dualism, as it’s called, broke down
completely when Einstein proved his theories of relativity and
when quantum physics became known to be true. These two
major advances in science helped show that there was
obviously something else influencing the human body that was
not physical in nature. It turned out, of course, to be the human
mind and spirit.

Western medicine, meaning pharmaceutical drugs and surgery,

relies heavily on Cartesian dualism. The advances with
Einstein’s relativity and quantum physics have almost
Health Insurance Off the Grid
completely eluded Western medicine. Even the newest drugs
and procedures assume that our bodies are machines, and all
that is needed for a physical ailment is a physical cure. If we
have a cancerous tumor, we should be able to cut it out and be
done. If we have a virus, we should be able to take a substance
that kills the virus and we’ll get better.

The irony is that holistic therapies like Traditional Chinese

Medicine (TCM) and Indian ayurveda fit perfectly with the new
sciences (relativity and quantum physics). Western medicine
has come along only in the last two hundred years, while the
Chinese and Indian traditions are thousands of years old. And
yet these ancient therapies mesh with the newest sciences as if
they were developed by the same people!

TCM and ayurveda acknowledge that the body is NOT a

machine, and that we need to pay close attention to a person’s
spirit, mind and body if we hope to help them with some health

So, the problem was not the separation of religion and the
human body, so much as it was that the body was viewed as a
machine, which it is clearly not. There is nothing in the Bible
that states that the body is a machine. It was just Descartes’
“work-around” that he had to formulate because of the
restriction the Church put on him at that time. Can you blame

But Christians may have problems with the “spirit” part of

body, mind, spirit. Holistic health means that all parts of the
Health Insurance Off the Grid
person are considered at once, but a Christian may object to
mixing their Christianity with a doctor’s appointment.

Having said that, a Christian will be doing themselves a great

disservice if they completely reject all the holistic therapies
available. Instead, the best route for a Christian is to pick and
choose the therapies and the practitioners who are compatible
with their own beliefs, or the practitioners who can effectively
“leave their religion at the door” when treating patients. It will
not be difficult to find these religion-free practitioners. Just ask
the four questions and you’ll be quite sure to find a practitioner
who will fit your needs!

“Our bodies are not machines.”

Health Insurance Off the Grid
Step 7 – The Monthly Plan – Plan Each Month
of Wellness and Illness
Create a plan to support your family’s health financially. You’ll
need to show the money you put in, and then how it gets spent.

Health is unpredictable. Next month, your whole family might

come down with the flu and you’ll spend hundreds of dollars
trying to recover. So you might ask what the value of a plan is
for such an unpredictable area.

Planning is possible for unpredictable areas as long as you are

always reserving some funds for the big problems that arise (flu
epidemics among them!). These reserved funds are called
contingency, and this is the major way for you to have a
“backup plan” for when things get tough.

A plan is also useful to help remind you of wellness measures

you wish to take. Too often, yearly physicals exams get done
every five years. Too often, herbs and vitamins that could
prevent major disease sit unused on a shelf. And too often,
holistic services like rolfing and massage get put off until a
crisis ensues, making the job harder and creating pain that
wasn’t necessary.

On the next page is an example of a monthly health plan for

two consecutive months.

Health Insurance Off the Grid

Jones Family - Month of March 2005

Practice Dad Cost Mom Cost Baby Cost Total
family six $50 $50
practitioner month
craniosacral 2 $120 $120
therapy appts/mth
($60 ea)
massage 1 $80 1 $80 $160
therapy appt/mth appt/mth
($80 ea) ($80 ea)
preventive multi, $25 multi, $40 $65
vitamins, black dong
minerals cohosh quai
aromatherapy $0

yoga classes 10 $90 10 $90 $180

class/mth class/mth
TOTAL $195 $260 $120 $575

Health Insurance Off the Grid

Jones Family - Month of April 2005

Practice Dad Cost Mom Cost Baby Cost Total
family $0
craniosacral 2 $120 $120
therapy appts/mth
($60 ea)
massage 1 $80 1 $80 $160
therapy appt/mth appt/mth
($80 ea) ($80 ea)
preventive multi, $25 multi, $40 $65
vitamins, black dong
minerals cohosh quai
aromatherapy replace $50 $50
yoga classes 10 $90 10 $90 $180
class/mth class/mth
TOTAL $195 $260 $120 $575

Health Insurance Off the Grid
You can see that the amounts shift around in the categories
from month-to-month. They might also shift from person to
person as required. The goal is not to exceed the monthly
budget amount, which the Jones family decided was $575 per
month. That amount adds up to $6,900. The Jones family would
likely have saved $9,000 per year using their high-deductible
health insurance policy, so that means they have an additional
$2,100 that could go into one of the following:

• contingency holistic health fund

• Health Savings Account (to pay for Western medical
treatments under the deductible)
• Short-term savings (family gifts, vacations, non-health
emergency funds)
• retirement savings

Likely at the beginning of the plan, this family would be putting

the excess $2,100 into their HSA and contingency funds, but
after a few months, those funds would be full enough, and they
could divert the money into savings.

Build the contingency holistic health fund and HSA up to a

level where you and your family feel comfortable, then begin
funding other things (short-term savings, retirement, etc.).

An HSA is limited in terms of how much money can be

contributed yearly, but the lifetime amount is not limited.
However, since the types of services that an HSA may fund are
mainly limited to Western medical care, you may use your
Health Insurance Off the Grid
discretion to decide how much more should be in the HSA

For my wife and I, we’ve chosen to continue contributing the

maximum amount to our HSA every year, since the
contribution is a tax deduction and because we see the HSA not
only as a form of “medical self-insurance” but also as a tax-
deferred retirement savings account. Remember, it is still an
IRA after all!

Health Insurance Off the Grid
Step 8 – Save the Rest – Make Excess Savings
Serve You
If you’ve been adding up the costs of the HSA, HOTG
ACCOUNT and discount card, you will realize we haven’t used
up our savings yet. Remember, we saved thousands of dollars
by switching to a high-deductible plan. What shall we do with
the rest of this bounty?

The excess money cannot keep going into the HSA. The IRS
limits the amount you may deposit into the HSA each year, just
as they limit IRA contributions.

You could easily put the excess into your HOTG ACCOUNT,
because there are no limitations there at all. This is a wonderful
idea. You can keep funding this account and drawing from it as
you use holistic health services. The money may roll over from
year to year, continuing to grow with interest. And your health
will continue to improve if you are choosing your health
services wisely. There is really no limit to how healthy you and
your family can become, and it’s worth thinking about how
much money you want to invest into that worthy goal.

It will be hard to put a yearly figure on the goal of family

health. Instead, compare that goal with other financial goals you
might have: a secure retirement, a new house, automobiles,
boats, vacations. Use your intuition and input from your family
to decide how the excess savings should be allocated. Once
you’ve decide on the percentage splits, contact your financial
planner and have them do automatic allocations based on your

Health Insurance Off the Grid
decisions. If you decide later to make changes to the
allocations, you will be able to do so easily, so don’t wallow in
indecision worrying about the “right way.” Make a decision
quickly and then allow yourself to change it later.

If you are playing the role of financial planner yourself, you can
create the limits and allocations yourself using a computer
spreadsheet and maintaining it monthly.

Here are some ways to use the excess savings:

1. Make sure your HSA is fully funded. When you use the
funds in the HSA, you’ll need to replenish them the next
year up to the maximum allowed by the IRS. Use your
excess for this first, because the HSA grows tax-deferred.
2. Fund your HOTG ACCOUNT. If you intend to use
holistic health services in your monthly plan, you can
keep putting more money into this account until you feel
it will last the year.
3. After those funds are set, you can begin to divert the
money into savings. You may have short-term savings
goals, like a new car, Christmas presents for the kids,
vacations, home improvements, or other things. Or you
may decide to put the excess savings into a retirement
fund for your family. You must check with a qualified
financial planner to make the best choices for retirement
savings. Even if you are already saving for your
retirement, this might be a welcome additional amount of
money to help you live a full life after retirement.

Health Insurance Off the Grid
4. When you’re taking that vacation, earned through your
savings on health insurance, please send me a postcard!!
(Daryl Kulak, 52 Westerville Square, #152, Westerville
OH 43081)

My personal choice is to save that excess for retirement. My

wife and I are both savers at heart, so we love to find bits of
money here and there that we can sock away in our retirement
accounts. You may not be like us!

You may wish to establish a shorter-term savings plan. Perhaps

savings for a new car. If you use half of your high deductible
savings on healthcare (HSA and HOTG ACCOUNT) and save
the other half, you could buy a new car every eight or nine
years with your excess. Not bad!! Or you could save it for gifts
for family, or for charity. Gifts given to registered charities, like
the Red Cross, National Public Radio or Greenpeace, are tax
deductible, so you’re doing yourself a favor each time you give
to those worthy organizations (as well as doing the world a

Another idea is to use the excess as a lump sum pay-down of

your house mortgage or car payments each year.

Think long and hard about what you want to do with the excess
savings. If you don’t, the excess will get swept away in the day-
to-day spending of American life. You’ll never notice the
difference, and that would be sad. If you were paying the big
premiums before, and now you’re not, it is very easy just to
Health Insurance Off the Grid
switch where that money goes instead of letting it slip into the
petty cash fund.

Of course, for those of you who could not afford health

insurance before reading this book, you will use the excess to
fund the daily life expenses that you would not have been able
to under other health insurance plans. And I’m sure you’ll look
forward to the day when you can put away a few dollars
savings for retirement and your children’s inheritance someday.

Health Insurance Off the Grid
Step 9 – Review Once a Year – Change Your
Plan to Match Your Life
Your family will have lots of opinions on this new plan. Listen
to each family member’s concerns and try to address them in
the plan. If you’re using a financial planner, get their help. Get
ideas from your family practitioner, and other people you know
who have switched to a Health Off The Grid plan or something
similar to it.

Yearly Themes
You may want to establish a theme for each year. For
instance, this year might be “lose weight.” The whole family
works on ways to lose excess baggage through yoga classes,
fitness training, seeing a nutritionist, etc. Next year, the theme
is “learn to relax.” Now the family turns to aromatherapy,
massage, meditation and other methods of relaxation training.
In the third year, the family might choose “save money,”
meaning that their common goal is to use fewer services and
stash the money away for a financial goal (vacation, college
fund, etc.). This doesn’t mean that every holistic health service
the family uses has to fit the theme, but that there’s an overall
plan to try to accomplish the stated goal, and the family is
always thinking about ways to do it with the money in the

Sit down with your family and review the monthly spending
plan and get opinions on the family practitioner and the
allocation of money for healthcare, both the HSA and the

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HOTG ACCOUNT. Fix the weaknesses in the plan and move
forward into the new year.

The best time for this review is on the anniversary of your

starting the Health Off The Grid plan. Take time right now to
note the date and write a note on the calendar a year from now
to review your progress, celebrate your successes (especially
that new pot of money building up!) and fix the issues together.

Ideas for yearly themes:

• Lose weight
• Learn to relax
• Save money
• Have fun
• Get strong
• Focus on beauty
• Explore new therapies
• Get flexible
• Focus on the mind
• Focus on the body
• Focus on the spirit
• Recover from cancer
• Focus on sound and light therapies
• Focus on the spine
• Breathe
• Better vision
• Better hearing
• (you can imagine many more…)

Health Insurance Off the Grid
A Word to Holistic Health Practitioners
As a holistic practitioner, you may have found much to like
about this book. You probably use holistic therapies yourself,
and you also are probably self-employed. The insurance
strategies in this book will make a lot of sense for you.

However, please think about this book in terms of your clients.

What if your clients restructured their insurance and suddenly
were able to use your services in massage, aromatherapy, or
yoga much, much more than before? Wouldn’t that be great?

My intention with this book is to put it into the hands of holistic

practitioners across the country. Your current clients will be
best able to take advantage of the insurance approach in
this book.

Please pass this book on to them. You can do that in several


First, you can just tell them the Website where they can
purchase this book. That Website is:

Second, when your clients complain that you are not covered by
their insurance, tell them about this book. I may be able to help
them think of health insurance in a vastly different way, and
this will help them change their lives and use your services

Health Insurance Off the Grid

Third, if you think you might be recommending this book to a

lot of people, you may want to become an affiliate of Health
Insurance Off the Grid. An affiliate is someone who
advocates a particular product and then receives money when
that product is sold through their efforts.

I offer affiliates a great deal on the sale of each book. If you

feel you don’t want to profit from your clients in this way, we
can also arrange that your affiliate fees will be sent directly to a
charity of your choice, with monthly statements of how much
was donated and when.

If you wish to join the affiliate program, please contact me

(Daryl Kulak) at info@healthoffthegrid.com.

Health Insurance Off the Grid
I believe that the time for Health Insurance Off the Grid has
come. We have so many problems with Western medicine and
health insurance in America that we need to find solutions that
we can use NOW that will lower our expenses and allow us to
use preventive medicine that we know works.

If this book convinces you, please put it into action. The

country will change by our actions, and if enough people begin
to use a system like Health Insurance Off the Grid, we will
change the country simply by the decisions we make about our
personal situations. And that will be earth-shattering.

Thank you for buying this book and reading it. I hope it has
enriched your life. You may contact me anytime:

Daryl Kulak
President, Simplicity Institute
52 Westerville Square, #152
Westerville OH 43081
office: (614) 306 3477
e-mail: daryl@simplicity-institute.com
Website: www.simplicity-institute.com

Health Insurance Off the Grid

Appendix A – References

Andrews, Charles, Profit Fever – The Drive to Corporatize

Health Care and How to Stop It (Common Courage, 1995)
- Edging towards hysteria, this book looks at how healthcare
has evolved in the last century, and several reform efforts in the
U.S. (Washington D.C. and California). **

Armstrong, Pat, Armstrong, Hugh & Fegan, Claudia,

Universal Healthcare – What the United States Can Learn
From the Canadian Experience (New Press, 1998)
- A view of how the Canadian single-payer health insurance
system is also the solution for the U.S. **

Ballentine, Rudolph, Radical Healing – Integrating the

World’s Great Therapeutic Traditions to Create a New
Transformative Medicine (Harmony, 1999)
- A Western MD combines various holistic practices into
Western processes and emerges with something really great.
His major influence is ayurvedic medicine from India,
including yoga, Indian herbs and body type definitions. His
extensive knowledge of the body, energy and ayurveda comes
through on every page. *****

Barron, Bruce, Outsmarting Managed Care – A Doctor Shares

His Insider’s Secrets to Getting the Health Care You Want –
Get the Right Doctor and Hospital – Save On Your Medical Bill
– Get Top Referrals (Times Books, 1999)
Health Insurance Off the Grid
- A kind of a “work the system” book for people going through
a managed care “experience.” Very detailed, professional
advice. ***

Burmeister, Alice & Monte, Tom, The Touch of Healing –

Energizing Body, Mind and Spirit with the Art of Jin Shin
Jyutsu (Bantam, 1997)
- Detailed guidebook to the practice of jin shin jyutsu, a form of
acupressure to relieve day-to-day health problems. *****

Califano, Joseph A., America’s Health Care Revolution – Who

Lives? Who Dies? Who Pays? (Random House, 1986)
- Although this book is very out-of-date, and does not contain
much about the HMO revolution, it is still full of insight as to
how healthcare has gone downhill and what companies and
individuals can do about it. **

Cassavetes, Nick (Director), John Q (New Line Cinema,

- Movie about a father who becomes so enraged with care that
is refused to his desperately ill son that he takes an entire
emergency room hostage. Starring Denzel Washington and
Robert Duvall. *****

Castleman, Michael, Blended Medicine – The Best Choices in

Healing, The Breakthrough System that Combines Natural,
Alternative and Mainstream Medicine for More Than 100
Ailments (Rodale, 2000)
- this is a great book that suggests not only herbal remedies
(like many books like this do) but also yoga, exercise,
Health Insurance Off the Grid
visualizations and qigong treatments. My problem, though, as
with every book like this, is that the combination of treatment
must be individually tailored to the person with the problem,
and I can’t see how a book can state that a particular set of
therapies are good for everyone who has disease X without
knowing everything else going on in their lives. ***

Chopra, Deepak, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind – The Quantum

Alternative to Growing Old (Harmony, 1994)
- Love him or hate him, Deepak is the guru of holistic health in
North America. This book shows how quantum mechanics
gives us clues on how we can heal our bodies and souls, and the
concepts explained here changed my view of health forever
afterward. Energy healing makes a lot more sense when you
realize that our bodies are made up mostly of energy and
information, not matter. *****

Crofts, Neil, Authentic – How to Make a Living by Being

Yourself (Wiley Europe, 2003)
- A book written by a self-described “corporate drop-out” who
has fashioned a small business for himself that fulfills his own
personal dreams and ambitions, a path he highly recommends
in this book. ****

Dale, Cyndi, New Chakra Healing – The Revolutionary 32-

Center Energy System (Llewellyn, 1997)
- A comprehensive guide through the chakra (energy source)
systems, including the six chakras of the body, plus a whole set
of chakras above and around the body. The explanations are

Health Insurance Off the Grid
very clearly illustrated in words and pictures, and there are
exercises at the end of each chapter. ****

Epstein, Donald, The 12 Stages of Healing – A Network

Approach to Wellness (Amber-Allen, 1994)
- A unique “twelve step process” to getting through an illness,
whether physical, emotional or spiritual. Dr. Epstein is the
founder of network chiropractic and a very deep thinker about
holistic health practices. ***

Ginzberg, Eli, Tomorrow’s Hospital – A Look to the Twenty-

First Century (Yale University Press, 1996)
- A book from a big thinker, written a little academically, but
with interesting insights. Focuses on the Western medical
model, does not talk much about holistic health alternatives.

Gratzer, David, MD, Code Blue – Reviving Canada’s

Healthcare System (ECW Press, 1999)
- For anyone who thinks the quick, easy solution to American’s
healthcare crisis is to copy Canada’s system, this book provides
a tonic for that ill-advised mindset. I am from Canada
originally, and I can tell you the Canadian healthcare solution
(single-payer system) is no solution for America. ****

Gross, Martin, The Medical Racket – How Doctors, HMOs

and Hospitals are Failing the American Patient (Avon, 1998)
- This is a list of the ailments of the current (circa 1998)
medical system, without much information about how to fix
Health Insurance Off the Grid
things. But the details of the inner workings of HMOs and
hospitals are interesting and, often horrifying. The book is quite
hysterical in tone, but what would you expect from the author
of The Government Racket, The Tax Racket and The Brain
Watchers? **

Haley, Daniel, Politics in Healing – The Suppression and

Manipulation of American Medicine (Potomac Valley, 2000)
- A damning account of how the American Medical Association
has suppressed and harassed alternative medical provides in the
past two hundred years. Written by a former New York state
representative. *****

Ivker, Robert S., The Complete Self-Care Guide to Holistic

Medicine – Treating Our Most Common Ailments (Penguin
Putnam, 1999)
- Yet another disease-by-disease guide that provides advice for
homeopathic, nutritional, vitamin/mineral and herbal remedies.
Detailed, responsible, comprehensive information. But how is it
holistic? How is a book that says “if you have this disease, take
this pill” treating the whole person, their personal situation,
their mindset, their familial situation, etc. ***

Korn, Donald Jay, Your Money or Your Life – How to Save

Thousands on Your Health-care Insurance (MacMillian, 1992)
- Covers cost-cutting topics for individuals in health, disability,
long term care insurance, as well as Medicare. **

Health Insurance Off the Grid
Leonard, George & Murphy, Michael, The Life We are Given
– A Long-Term Program for Realizing the Potential of Body,
Mind, Heart and Soul (Tarcher, 1995)
- A book by the co-founders of the Esalen Institute in
California. They have created a set of practices that they’ve
borrowed from various ancient traditions that, if practiced every
day, can create transformation in a person’s life. The practice is
called Integral Transformative Practice (ITP). *****

Myss, Caroline & Shealy, C. Norman, The Science of

Medical Intuition
- This is a 12 CD set with some of the most interesting
information about holistic health you’ll ever find. Caroline
Myss is the most renowned medical intuitive in the world. A
medical intuitive is a person who can use psychic intuition to
diagnosis a person’s illnesses, whether physical, mental,
emotional or spiritual. This CD set is about medical intuition,
but it also has a set of guided meditations by Dr. Shealy that
can help with many, many chronic illnesses. He uses these
successfully in his clinic in Missouri. *****

Miller, Irwin, American Health Care Blues – Blue Cross,

HMOs and Pragmatic Reform Since 1960 (Transaction, 1996)
- An interesting history of Blue Cross in the past thirty years.

Northrop, Dorothy & Cooper, Stephen, Health Insurance

Resources – Options for People with a Chronic Disease or
Disability (2003, Demos Medical)

Health Insurance Off the Grid
- A resource book state-by-state of places to find funding for
chronically ill patients. **

Palmgren, Charlie & Petrarca, William, The Greatest Good

– Rethinking the Role of Relationships in the Moral Fiber of
Our Companies and Communities (Trafford, 2002)
- An outline of the work of Henry Nelson Wieman, who
formulated theories on how people could work together better,
helping each other and themselves become better people
working towards the common good. ***

Pilzer, Paul Zane, The Wellness Revolution – How to Make a

Fortune in the Next Trillion Dollar Industry (Wiley and Sons,
- If you read only one book in this list, read this one. It is
written by an economist and advisor to several presidents. He
outlines the economic opportunity of the emerging wellness
industry, which he defines quite broadly. Although the cover
may make you think this book is about multi-level marketing (a
bald guy standing smiling with his shirt open!) it is not about
that. It is well-written and intriguing. I stayed up all night
reading it as soon as I bought it. *****

Prevention Magazine Editors, Hands-on Healing – Massage

Remedies for Hundreds of Health Problems (Rodale, 1989)
- This book is old, but who cares? It describes the hands-on
practices in very good detail, with stories of how each practice
has helped people, and details of where it came from and how
it’s done. An excellent reference. *****

Health Insurance Off the Grid
Rognehaugh, Richard, The Managed Health Care Dictionary
(Aspen, 1998)
- Two hundred and sixty-one pages of acronyms and obscure
terms explained in an easy-to-read way. **

Schepper, Jeff, How to Pay Zero Taxes 2003 – Your Guide to

Every Tax Break the IRS Allows (McGraw Hill Trade, 2002)
- A step-by-step guide to reducing your tax burden, mentions
medical savings accounts (MSAs) and the way they can reduce
your taxes. **

Siegel, Bernie S., Love, Medicine and Miracles : Lessons

Learned about Self-Healing from a Surgeon's Experience with
Exceptional Patients (Perennial, 1990)
- Amazing anecdotes and statistics from one of the true pioneers
of holistic health. Bernie Siegel feels that unconditional love is
the best healthcare remedy for any ailment, and he shows how it
has been applied to the most dire health circumstances
successfully. Read this book, laugh, cry and love it! *****

Sinclair, Brett Jason, Alternative Health Care Resources – A

Directory and Guide (Prentice-Hall, 1992)
- A comprehensive reference with entries of various holistic
health practices, as well as ailments and diseases. Each section
lists the associations with addresses and phone numbers (this
book was too early for Websites!), so many of those may be
out-of-date, however, it will be easy enough to search for them
on the Web. **

Health Insurance Off the Grid
Shealy, C. Norman, The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of
Alternative Healing Therapies (Element Books, 1999)
- If Norman Shealy edits or writes something, you know it will
be the highest quality. As with the other encyclopedia-type
books, this oversize text has a section on which modalities will
help with which conditions (which is not holistic, in my
opinion, because a book cannot treat the “whole person” in their
entire situation). However, it also has a large section on various
modalities and what they’re like: Trager work, Alexander
Technique, chiropractic, ayurveda, acupuncture, etc. The
photography and illustration is very beautiful and relevant
throughout the book. Although the list of modalities is far from
comprehensive (but what book could be?) the detail and
vividness of the photos of each therapy will give a prospective
patient a great insight into the practice. *****

Shealy, C. Norman, Sacred Healing – The Curing Power of

Energy and Spirituality (Elements Books, 1999)
- A book about the ways to heal a person’s spirit, and
subsequently heal a person’s body and mind. *****

Shernoff, William, Fight Back and Win – How to Get Your

HMO and Health Insurance to Pay Up (Bottom Line, 1998)
- if you are having trouble (or anticipate having trouble) getting
your HMO to pay bills, this is a very empowering book.
According to the author, most of the ways that HMOs deny
claims are patently illegal and would never stand up in
arbitration. However, most people just suffer through it and do
not follow through on getting their HMOs to pay the full
amounts, so the HMOs get away with it. After reading this
Health Insurance Off the Grid
book, you’ll have the tools to take on an HMO and win (even
though you can’t actually sue them). *****

Shulman, Neil & Sweitzer, Better Healthcare for Less – An

easy-to-use guide with over 350 entries and 1,000 tips on how
to save money and improve the quality of your healthcare
(Hippocrene, 1993)
- Out-of-date, yes, but a lot of the tips are pretty timeless. This
doctor and co-author had been producing a newsletter of the
same name, and decided to put all the tips in a nicely organized,
encyclopedia-style book. The tips range from advice on the type
of bed to buy if you have back pain, to places to find low-cost
dental care for children. A good reference for specific issues
where creativity is needed. ****

Spragins, Ellyn, Choosing and Using an HMO (Bloomberg,

- A very clearly written handbook detailing all the information
you’ll need to choose an HMO that will most likely fulfill your
needs, and then how to handle them once the policy is in place.

Theodosakis, Jason & Feinberg, David, Don’t Let Your HMO

Kill You – How to Wake up Your Doctor, Take Control of Your
Health and Make Managed Care Work for You (Routledge,
- Wow! Great writing and an arresting title! Two doctors tell us
how to “live with your HMO” in a way that will help you
maintain or gain good health. There is a chapter on preventive
medicine, but it is very conservative, limited to good drinking
Health Insurance Off the Grid
water, supplements, stress management, etc. Easy to read, good
charts and graphs to illustrate trends, authoritative. ****

Weil, Andrew, Natural Health, Natural Medicine (Houghton-

Mifflin, 1998)
- Dr. Weil is one of the most charismatic leaders of the holistic
health movement. He is a tremendous source of knowledge and
a tireless promoter of all things “integrative.” He has written a
number of books, but I feel this is the one that provides the
most specific information, including chapters entitled “How
Not to Get a Heart Attack,” “How Not to Get a Stroke,” and
“How Not to Get Cancer.” Dr. Weil’s written work seems a lot
less radical than his talks and commentaries, but this book is
still pretty good. ***

Winer, Harry (Director), Damaged Care (Paramount Home

Video, 2002)
- A movie about an MD who works inside several HMOs and
encounters the “profit motive,” only to become an outspoken
critic of the system. Starring Laura Dern. *****

Winokur, Julie & Kashi, Ed, Denied – The Crisis of

America’s Uninsured (Talking Eyes Media, 2003) – available at
- Visually arresting, a deep look into the people’s lives that are
being lost and damaged due to denial of medical care by
insurance companies. The photography is stunning, the writing
is reasonably good. This book is about the problem, not
solutions, but we need this perspective as much as any other.
Health Insurance Off the Grid

Appendix B – Forms and Samples

Health Insurance Off the Grid

Monthly Plan Templates

I’ve included a set of monthly plan templates that you can make
copies of and use.

Put the month and year in the blank at the top of the page.

The column with the underline ____________ shows where

you can put the name of the family member in the heading, and
then the descriptions of the individual treatments or sessions in
the boxes below.

On the first page, I show a completed monthly plan for each

format (1 person, couple, family) to give you an idea of how to
fill it out.

Do one for each month of the upcoming year. Review at the end
of the year and do another twelve plan pages.

Compare the “total amount budgeted” at the bottom of each

month to the amount you save on health insurance premiums
from Step 1 of Health Off The Grid. If the total amount
budgeted is always less than what you saved on health
insurance, you are ahead. You don’t have to keep it below that
amount, but it is helpful to at least do the comparison.

Health Insurance Off the Grid

Cindy Healthnut - Month of February 2005

Practice Cost
family practitioner visits none this month $0

massage therapy two sessions $140

$70 each
herbs and vitamins refill multivitamins, $55
meditation, yoga, tai chi classes yoga 3/week $0
(include in gym
personal training, gym gym membership $50
memberships $600/year prorated

books, tapes, Internet subscriptions small monthly $35

about health budget

energy healing one session/month $70

consult medical intuitive once a month $80

If this is an average month for Cindy, she will spend $5,160 a year on
holistic services. She saved $6,000 on her health insurance premiums by
moving to high-deductible, so she is saving $840 a year by using this plan.
On the months when she has her family practitioner visit, she does not get
her regular massages that month, because then she’d be overbudget.

Health Insurance Off the Grid

Single Person - Month of ______________________

Practice Cost
family practitioner visits

massage therapy

herbs and vitamins

meditation, yoga, tai chi classes

personal training, gym


books, tapes, Internet subscriptions

about health


Health Insurance Off the Grid
Fred and Pat - Month of November 2006

Practice Cost Cost Total Cost

Fred Pat
family practitioner visits naturopath $100 none this $100
checkup month

massage therapy 2 $130

herbs and vitamins refills for $20 refills for $100 $120
multis all
and herbs
meditation, yoga, tai chi one class / $15
classes month
personal training, gym none none $0
books, tapes, Internet none none $0
subscriptions about health
aromatherapy refills for $50 $50

Fred and Pat, the happy couple, spent $415 on holistic services this month.
If this is a typical month, they’ll spend $4,980 a year. They saved $5,000,
so they wanted to stay within that amount for their yearly spending on
holistic services. They spend almost exactly what they would have if they
used a low-deductible policy, however they get to do the meditation
classes and aromatherapy they’ve always wanted to use regularly. They’ve
completely forgotten the question “Does my insurance cover it?” Now,
they don’t care. It’s in the budget.

Health Insurance Off the Grid

Couple - Month of ______________________

Practice Cost Cost Total Cost

______ ______
family practitioner visits

massage therapy

herbs and vitamins

meditation, yoga, tai chi

personal training, gym
books, tapes, Internet
subscriptions about health


Health Insurance Off the Grid

The Pearce Family - Month of July 2007

Practice Cost Cost Cost Total

Dad Mom Junior Cost
family practitioner none none naturopath $120 $120
visits this this visit
month month
massage therapy none none none $0

herbs and vitamins refill $20 refill $20 refill $20 $60
vitamins vitamins vitamins
meditation, yoga, none none none $0
tai chi classes
personal training, none none gym $25 $25
gym membership member
TOTAL $205

The Pearce family has one focus – saving for college! They wanted to
change their health insurance to be able to focus on saving money. They
use a naturopathic doctor as their first line of defense, but they try to keep
their costs down in all areas. Since they saved $9,000 by moving to a
high-deductible policy, they are able to put a savings of $6,540 into the
bank every year, giving them a total of $99,705 for Junior’s college costs
in 10 years when he leaves high school. They had no idea that their
college fund would come from their health insurance, but it did!!

Health Insurance Off the Grid

Family of Three - Month of ______________________

Practice Cost Cost Cost Total

______ ______ ______ Cost
family practitioner
massage therapy

herbs and vitamins

meditation, yoga,
tai chi classes
personal training,
gym membership
books, tapes,
subscriptions about


Health Insurance Off the Grid
About the Author

Daryl Kulak is the President of the

Simplicity Institute in Columbus, Ohio.
The Simplicity Institute is a business
school for the holistic healthcare

Daryl graduated from the Northern

Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)
in 1983 and became a business and
technology consultant for the next twenty
years. In 2003, he began the Simplicity
Institute to fulfill his own passion for the
realm of holistic health.

Daryl lives with his lovely wife Tamara,

a costume designer, in Westerville, Ohio
with their three cats, Teaser, Pixel and