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Keep choice in healthcare

Reform efforts need a broader definition of healing.

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Nearly 46 million Americans today are without health insurance. Premiums have doubled in this decade alone. At the same time, the cost of hospitalization and pharmaceuticals has escalated dramatically. So, sadly, many businesses and individuals now find themselves priced out of the market. People who desperately want health insurance often can't pay for it and see coverage as a luxury only the rich can afford.

It's natural, therefore, that healthcare reform – a plan that will guarantee health insurance for everyone – is the subject of intense public discussion. Both presidential candidates offer such a plan, although they take different approaches. And in nearly every state legislature, healthcare reform has become a significant topic. Massachusetts has already adopted legislation mandating health insurance for everyone, except for those who opt out by using accommodations provided in the law. And California, the most populous state, is wrestling with its own version.

Yet some raise a caution, especially in view of current unsettled global economic conditions. They ask whether sweeping healthcare reform will ease – or overload – the burden US taxpayers carry. And legislation alone, they warn, won't necessarily curb the underlying problem of runaway healthcare costs.

Others bring up a different concern. If reform is to deliver on its promise, they say, the definition of healthcare needs to be broadened beyond simply conventional medical treatment. Reform needs to provide for the widest range of responsible healthcare choices. It needs to reach beyond allopathic models alone – to include the broad spectrum of alternative approaches that millions of Americans are now turning to for treatment.

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