Karen Kuzsel

Karen Kuzsel

The prognosis that one small area of my hip had crossed the border into osteoporosis has landed me in the sticker shock hell of questionable medicine and its cost. What price are you willing to pay for your health when it’s not a matter of life and death?I’m not a conspiracy theorist, so my recent experiences have made me question whether I am being treated this way because I have “women issues” or are these concerns generated from society’s reluctance to adhere to anything other than conventional Western medicine and therefore, we must all pay a higher cost for alternative therapy?
Here’s my story without all the unnecessary details that would be TMI. I really want to hear what you think and what you think we can do about it.
I’m a middle-aged woman who eats healthy (no radical diets, ever), does jazzercise an average of five days a week, walks at least an hour a couple times a week, and ballroom dances as often as possible. I’m blessed to have a husband with great insurance, so I’ve not had to think twice when needing medical assistance.  The only medicine I take has been one Evista a day and until recently, even stopped taking any vitamins or supplements because I heeded all the warnings that you can never be sure what’s in them and once I stopped, never saw any difference. I have a tremendous amount of energy, am happily married, and get plenty of rest… all markers that contrast with what a doctor thinks ails women of a certain age.
So what’s the problem? When my internist suggested that I take a bone density pill (like Atelia, Boniva, Fosamex, Prolia etc), I balked. I researched the possible side effects, and as someone who is super sensitive to foods, drugs, chemicals and the environment, I am not taking those risks. Instead, I sought alternative therapies more suited to my lifestyle and attitude.
Through a long and winding path, I found myself at the office of functional medicine practitioners, both of whom are women and Doctors of Oriental Medicine. One is also a medical doctor, but licensed in another country until she takes her exams here. I like these women, their staff, and the vibe of the practice. It’s holistic and caring, looking at each patient as an individual who warrants something more than off-the-shelf remedies. I knew that my body must be deficient in a nutrient and I want to strengthen my bones in a more natural way. This seemed to be the correct path to get there.
It’s not my first adventure with alternative medicine. Acupuncture relieved pain and swelling from two minor car accidents when chiropractors and other doctors couldn’t heal them. I don’t inject botox or other artificial chemicals, rarely take even a Tylenol, and believe strongly in the power of mind over matter.
For the past five weeks, I’ve adhered to a modified GAPS food regimen and did extensive blood work. Much of the blood work is to discover whether my hormones are imbalanced, or what else may be an issue. I’m healthy. Hormones are a bit askew, so the suggestion was to begin biodentical hormones. Unfortunately, the laws have changed and my doctor can no longer write a scrip for that.
Here’s when the sticker shock set in.
For the most part, alternative doctors do not accept insurance, nor will they assist you with paperwork. You lay out the dollars and if you see fit to submit to insurance, so be it. My doctor is reasonable and willing to assist, so I was on board.  My doctor’s office suggested several anti-aging doctors for me to check out who could write the scrip for biodentical hormones.
One was too busy studying for her boards to see me. Another had really negative reviews when I researched the names online.
The third doctor is an MD who charges $850 cash (yes, eight hundred fifty dollars) for a one hour appointment, even though I’d be bringing all my recent lab results.  When I picked my jaw off the floor, I called Dr. #4, an OB-GYN who also practices functional medicine and specializes in hormonal balancing.
Her receptionist informed me that the doctor would first have to examine my lab work before allowing me to schedule an appointment. The fee would be $595 for the first hour visit, $275 for each subsequent visit, and an average of $150 a month for the biodentical hormones.  Cash.  Insurance not accepted.
If I was suffering from a terminal illness I would likely pay or do anything to get better, but I am not ill. I am just working to improve the health at which I assiduously work. I don’t know about you, but I am not willing to take out another mortgage to try to follow a naturalized course of wellness.
So, what do you think? Is this a conspiracy of conventional medicine combatting alternative medicine, compelling the latter to charge enormous fees because there are so many of us looking for another path? Are the high costs because we’re women, and doctors think we’ll be suckers to look younger and feel younger? Why should striving to be preventative about one’s health cost more than care provided for those who have neglected theirs?
Should I just accept the society’s typical response that I’m getting older and it is what it is… so accept it?
I won’t accept that. Never have. Never will. My search will continue.
What would you do?
Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries.  She is a Contributing Editor-Writer for Prevue Magazine and is an active member of ISES and MPI. She writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, Karen has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. karenkuzsel@earthlink.net; www.karenkuzsel.wordpress.com; @karenkuzsel; www.ThePsychicLady.com; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @thepsychiclady

0 replies
    • karen kuzsel
      karen kuzsel says:

      Thanks for the shout out. I know health care is a huge national concern and that I am more fortunate than many at having it. If I struggle with the costs to prevent ill health, how does someone less fortunate even begin to overcome their health struggles?

  1. joaneisenstodt
    joaneisenstodt says:

    Shaking my head knowing what this is about. I am NOT in good health .. was diagnosed w/ osteoarthritis years ago, and, in ’07, non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Through this we had and then didn’t have insurance since it’s through my husband’s work and he was laid off (and then had a great job that’s ending 4/30 after .. layoffs.) Many of the docs I have seen take insurance but .. the co-pays and meds and other needs are great.
    The prices you were quoted are astronomical. Our primary care physician who doesn’t take insurance and is terrific to oversee our and mostly my care charges nothing close to that. I found out today that Medicare (which I’ll be on in a few days) will only cover some of my expenses – not eye, not dental ..and most docs don’t take it.
    Whether one is in good or marginal or bad health, it is a “death panel” to just live bec. there is no safety net at all unless you have SOOOOO much money you can get the help you need.
    And I decided a long time ago that I’d rather keep a roof over our heads and possibly die than get treatment for cancer if we are not covered by insurance.
    Wait til you get to Medicare and the nightmare of making the 65+ community wade through it all.
    Fight this .. some of us have been and it’s exhausting. And most of all, be well.

    • karen kuzsel
      karen kuzsel says:

      Thank you for your personal insight. I was widowed at 26 with a young daughter to raise when my just-turned-27 yr old husband died of leukemia. We had no insurance. Life has always been a financial struggle, so I appreciate the dilemma in which you have found yourself. I have fought my entire life against the one-size-fits-all style of medicine, overcoming some personal issues with perseverence and asking for guidance from others more knowledgeable… as I did today. Yours is a strong voice that people listen and heed. I applaud your fight and happy to be your sister warrior in this battle.

  2. Eleanor K. SommerE. K. Sommer
    Eleanor K. SommerE. K. Sommer says:

    Karen, you have expressed what a lot of us are going through! Apparently aging is a disease, and we must pay dearly both allopathic and holistic to allay discover the facts about our own health! Drink infusions of nettles and oatstraw. Get your vitamin D level checked. (Yeah I know seem counterintuitive as we live in FL, but it’s worth checking). Try some Qi gong (Chi kung) as a foil for all the aerobics (builds and circulates chi).

    • karen kuzsel
      karen kuzsel says:

      Hi Ellie,
      Thanks for responding and for your suggestions. I am taking probiotics & D3 at this point. If I end up not doing bioidenticals I will add magnesium & look into your suggestions. I am not a pill taker so even adding these two pills makes me crazy. My plethora of blood tests showed I’m darned healthy & Judy need a few tweaks

  3. spbarabe
    spbarabe says:

    You are middle aged, have great insurance and want to do the right things to be the healthiest you can be…..a doctors dream… doctors need to make money too – .I believe my mother is way over medicated because she has my dads great insurance…
    What would I do? Since it not life or death I’d continue to self diagnosis, read a lot about it and try different whole food diets – I know many people you live for long long lives with just “something” not quite right…


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