As the need for different types of health care has expanded, so has the coverage available through some health insurance providers.
"Medical technology is constantly evolving, and our medical policies must evolve to keep pace with new services and procedures that demonstrate the ability to improve the health and well-being of our members," says Deb Wiethop, public relations director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri. Chiropractors, speech therapists, physical and occupational therapy and acupuncture are just a few services now covered under some Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance plans, she says.
"This is the result of a number of factors, including the desire of our customers for greater choice, the fact that states like Missouri, and others, are providing licensing to a broader range of practitioners, and that the clinical community is more accepting of a broader range of services that have been proven to improve health outcomes," says Wiethop.
Greg Greenwalt, independent business owner and agent at Greenwalt Financial Services in Jackson, sees more acceptance of chiropractic and mental health care services in the insurance world but says coverage differs from company to company.
"It varies widely. Some look at it like a routine, everyday doctor's visit, and others don't," he says. "Nothing's etched in stone ... but it's becoming more commonplace."
Greenwalt says the biggest insurance change he's seen is the emphasis on preventive care, part of this year's health care reform.
"Health insurance policies now provide -- at no deductible, no coinsurance, no cost to the person at all -- overall preventive services," he says. That includes mammograms, colonoscopies, PSA tests, Pap smears and a routine physical exam each year.
"Everything I see these days zeros in heavily on the preventive care -- the idea that if the company pays for that, people will do preventive things that allow problems to be caught early," says Greenwalt.
Whether it's preventive or specialty care, Wiethop expects more expansion in insurance coverage options.
"Two areas where there is a lot of activity currently are in genetic testing and specialty pharmaceuticals that can be used to improve the quality of life for our members and, in some cases, prolong life," she says.