Healthcare professional resource featuring the most recent developments in Integrative Healthcare policy, research, education and news, courtesy of John Weeks and the Integrator Blog



Aetna’s mind-body programs developed in partnership with Duke, Viniyoga and e-Mindful 

The February 2012 release from Aetna and its three partners was entitled “Aetna Delivers Evidence-Based Mind-Body Stress Management Programs.”  The giant insurer is now offering its employees two workplace programs: Mindfulness at Work (mindfulness meditation) and Viniyoga Stress Reduction (therapeutic Viniyoga). These were collaboratively researched by Aetna in partnership with Duke Integrative Medicine and the two delivery organizations. Pilot studies found that the programs helped participants significantly reduce their perceived stress levels while improving their ability to respond to stress. Since completion of the 2010 study, Aetna has expanded the availability of the programs to all Aetna employees nationwide. Aetna also began implementing the programs with several employer customers. The insurer indicates in the release that they have “received strong interest from other customers in a wide range of sectors, including financial services and health care service providers.”

Swiss analysis finds those with CAM services cost the same or less than conventional care, with higher patient satisfaction 

A recently-published study, Comparison of Swiss basic health insurance costs of complementary and conventional medicine, based on a thorough governmental analysis, supports the cost neutrality or cost-effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine. The study examined comparative cost effectiveness with what the researchers called conventional medicine (COM):  


“Results: Statistical procedures show similar total practice costs for CAM and COM, with the exception of homeopathy with 15.4% lower costs than COM. Furthermore, there were significant differences between CAM and COM in cost structure especially for the ratio between costs for consultations and costs for medication at the expense of basic health insurance. Patients reported better quality of the patient-physician relationship and fewer adverse side effects in CAM; higher cost-effectiveness for CAM can be deduced from this perspective.

“Conclusion: This study uses a health system perspective and demonstrates at least equal or better cost-effectiveness of CAM in the setting of Swiss ambulatory care. CAM can therefore be seen as a valid complement to COM within Swiss health care.”

This study was a part of the decision process of the Swiss government upon which Dana Ullman, MPH, commented in his report in the Huffington Post noted elsewhere in this issue of the Round-up. (Thanks to Integrator adviser Paolo Roberti di Sarsina, MD for the link.)

Insurance coverage of alternative therapies on the rise … for pets! 

The title of the article in the February 13, 2012 Seattle PI online as sent by Integrator adviser Glenn Sabin was intriguing: Trupanion Offers Coverage for Alternative Therapies. The subhead was as appealing: “Alternative therapies including acupuncture, physical therapy, hydrotherapy, and behavior modification will now be covered under Trupanion’s expanded benefits.” It isn’t until one gets into the story that it becomes clear that Trupanion is the nation’s second largest purveyor of health insurance policies … for pets. The firm’s paradigm is one of “whole pet treatment.” For example: “Alternative therapies often complement traditional medical therapies to assist in the treatment of accidents and illnesses. The focus is on individualizing treatment, treating the whole pet as opposed to specific symptoms, and promoting self-healing.” 

Comment: I anticipate a rash of hiring of veterinarians by integrative clinic to take advantage of this new opportunity for income from covered services.