Healthcare According To Ernie – Naturopathic Medicine, the road less traveled…

Tapping in acupuncture needle

I went for my second acupuncture treatment today and man – what a feeling.  Let’s back up though…

If this is the first entry of mine you’ve read, I recently went to the hospital for severe pain in my back right side.  I spent the better part of a day and submitted a little more than $11,000 in hospital and ER charges to my insurance provider to get some Prednisone and a diagnosis that by the hospital’s own admission was probably wrong – so a lot of time and money and no solution.

When I got back from the vacation I was on when all this happened I went about interviewing naturopathic doctors.  If you’re unfamiliar with these type of doctors there are apparently a number of different types but I focused on the NMD flavor.  These practitioners are both medical doctors and naturopathic doctors meaning they practice both western and alternative or eastern medicine.  I needed this combined skill set to ween me off the Prednisone and figure out what was really wrong with me.

I met with Dr Matt Cavaiola (@doctorcavaiola and for a FREE 15 minute consultation.  I asked him a bunch of questions and we actually consulted for more like an hour – still for FREE.  I explained what had happened, what had been done and what I was looking for and he told me a couple things that I think are very important when it comes to health care:

  1. He’s about treating the whole body, the root of the problem and not managing symptoms.
  2. He doesn’t take insurance – because most insurance won’t pay for alternative care still.  My plan in particular will have none of it but some do.  I believe Cigna has some pretty good alternative care coverage.
  3. If I decided to come back he is looking forward to working with me to improve my well being.


Let’s part these statements out.  First, whole body treatment, solving the problem and not managing the symptoms.  Much of what I’ve read and seen recently leads me to believe that that is a predominate method of treatment in what we would consider traditional medicine in the U.S.  Not everyone is like that and I’m sure someone will take exception to that sweeping generalization – most likely my pharmacist brother-in-law – sorry man!  Anyway, it was refreshing to hear someone actually say the words – I hadn’t heard that from anyone in the hospital.

He doesn’t take insurance – what what what?!?!  My first question was how expensive is this going to be because I’m not poor but I’m far from rich.  Much to my surprise, he runs a 100% cash business paid at the time of service.  Billing is simple and money flow is simple so costs can be kept low.  So far I’ve paid the following to him for services:

  • $250 for the first baseline consultation and diagnosis session
  • $250 for a IgG food allergy test
  • $95 times 2 for 2 acupuncture treatments

This is a grand total of $690 for which I received:

A pretty spot on diagnosis of which organs in my body are not happy, a course of treatment, a nice overview of what food types I’m sensitive too and two treatments.  Compare that to $11,000+ for um, no diagnosis, no treatment and a ton of tests to get me there?  Oh and let’s not forget the 17 hours I got to stay in a semi-private awesome hospital bed…

Lastly, he said IF I decided to come back.  He didn’t assume I was coming back, he really wanted me to come back.  He was selling me on his ability to cure me.  There’s a certain humbleness there that appeals to me – to most people I think.  Now I’m not saying that all traditional medical doctors are arrogant but, um, well, have you met them?  A lot are – many aren’t – to be sure.  Like my doctor at Bayfront – he was great.  Very transparent on what he did and didn’t know but still, he didn’t have any answers, only apologies.  He didn’t sell me on a solution, he sold me on getting me out of his hospital bed.  I like solutions, not kicking the old personal health care can down the treatment road.

What does this all mean?  So far I feel great.  The explanations he provided were clear, concise and based on common sense.  He did ask me to change up my lifestyle a little, not much but I feel like I’m on the road to recovery and a CURE, not a managed condition.

So what’s the big deal.  The big deal is that if my insurance company included this type of care in the plan design I would have sent them $690 in claims , of which I would have paid all of it given that I have a $2,900 deductible.  So they would have:

  1. Collected premiums from me.
  2. Paid nothing on claims year to date.
  3. Had a healthy member.

Instead they have:

  1. Collected premiums from me.
  2. Received $12,779.14 in claims (so far).
  3. Will start paying 100% of claims now because I met my $2,900 deductible.
  4. Had I not changed course, would have continued to pay claims for what western medicine diagnosed as a chronic condition.

So I ask you, how is alternative medicine bad for anyone in this equation?

If you’d like to learn more please let me know and please visit to learn more about naturopathic medicine.