Friday, May 20, 2016

The Realities of Health Insurance: Part 2

What role do you think insurance should play in your health goals? 

With costs higher than ever, our collective answer to that question will ultimately help determine the future of healthcare and health insurance. 

A few months ago, in Part 1 of this exploration of modern insurance, health was clearly defined as the condition in which an organism performs its vital operations properly and a simplified process was identified to serve as the basic standard for how to achieve it; in review, health is most readily restored or maintained through the combination of optimal nervous system function, proper nutrition, stress management, regular exercise, and structural balance.

The process of regaining and sustaining health is analogous to car maintenance.  The human body is a well-oiled machine designed to heal itself but, like an automobile, it has foundational requirements.  We are educated at a young age of the importance of car maintenance; we become aware that there are certain items on a list that must be checked off to ensure that our vehicles work as well and last for as long as possible.  Oil changes, tire rotations, fluid level checks, air filter replacements, etc., they are all part of a preventative model established from the time a car is purchased.  We budget for car maintenance accordingly. 

Most of us treat our cars much better than we treat our bodies.  When the check engine light comes on in a car, for example, we know it to be a small warning sign of a potentially bigger problem that may not have yet exhibited significant symptoms.  In healthcare as we know it today, the common protocol for the physical version of the check engine light coming on is to do the equivalent of covering up the light with a piece of electrical tape and pretending it is not there; the underlying problem persists without addressing the early warning sign and eventually manifests as a more substantial issue sooner or later. 

Particularly apt for the current season, the example of the air conditioning unit provides another relevant analogy.  Having it serviced is far more cost effective than waiting for something major to malfunction because it was not maintained.  Like any other machine, it needs maintenance to ensure that it operates at peak efficiency and will otherwise break down; the human body is the same. 

Insurance is designed to act as a failsafe should health requirements not be met and should your body experience the catastrophic results of physical decay; it is also designed to meet the needs brought about by the unforeseeable circumstances that we have no control over such as car accidents.  Treating sickness and disease is not the same thing as becoming (or staying) healthy; neither is crisis management.  The preventative-maintenance model utilized with our automobiles and A/C units is the type of mindset that American healthcare principally lacks and needs to adopt

Redefining health and reshaping our understanding of how to become healthy are vitally important to establishing economic equilibrium for healthcare costs.  Right now, there is a huge demand for health, but basic health education and knowledge about those practitioners who can facilitate and guide you toward maximizing your health potential is in comparatively low supply. 

Consider that 99% of the $3.27 trillion total expenditure for healthcare in the United States last year was spent on conventional medical practices (mainly drug therapy and surgical procedures) and on the health insurance designed to cover these treatments.  The unfortunate facts of the matter are that the average American spent over $10,000 on healthcare in 2015, all but 1% of which went toward a methodology that has yielded America as a whole dead last among its peers in the industrialized world, statistically, when it comes to being healthy. 

We are collectively stuck in a vicious cycle.  For several decades, we have demanded health from sources that are primarily tasked with treating symptoms, disease, and trauma.  That alone has kept healthcare spending higher (15% of the average American yearly income) because we have utilized insurance coverage more often to help cover medical fees.  The basic law of health insurance is that the greater the likelihood of using medical services, the more money it will cost to have medical insurance.  Insurance is, therefore, most affordable when fewer claims are being filed for medical services.   

The cycle will not slow down – much less end – until we command it to change.  First and foremost among the changes is our mindset.  Health is a goal, its various aspects in need of evaluation and intention.  Education is very important in changing the way that we think about health; we need to bring greater awareness to the gaping holes in our current system and put programs in place to outline for the general public the pillars of healthy-living.  If we jointly move away from the symptom-based model and toward a preventative model, we will be collectively healthier and be more consistently productive members of society, resulting in less insurance usage and decreases in cost accordingly. 

Coinciding with a more constructive approach to healthcare will be a shift in our way of thinking about who should cover health expenses.  Going back to the opening question, insurance should go back to playing its original role of disaster relief – the role it plays in all other aspects of life.  So, just as maintenance of a car or AC unit is a separate cost from car or home owner’s insurance, it is important to recognize that the associated costs for the education and guidance that health professionals can offer to help you and your family become healthy are understandably separate, in many cases, from your “health” insurance.  In reality, being healthy is the best insurance, its premiums small and its dividends large. 

Sources: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, National Institute of Health

Dr. Chad McIntyre owns and operates the Triad Upper Cervical Clinic in Kernersville.  Specializing in Upper Cervical Care, his practice emphasizes a proactive, goal-oriented approach to health heavily rooted in thorough patient education.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Guest Blogger Series: Why a Physician Became a Shamanic Healer

The Path of Healing
(and why a physician became a shamanic healer)

Healing is usually seen as a curing of an illness or relief of symptoms. But true healing is much more. True healing doesn’t focus only on symptom relief, but on seeking the foundation and source of any underlying imbalance, while moving towards health and wholeness in the largest sense.
I have spent my life seeking to understand the nature of healing and help people to heal. That journey began with my going to medical school, becoming a physician, and then spending an additional 4 years training as a psychiatrist, followed by 10 years of private psychiatric practice. But I soon realized that despite my intense years of training, I was still limited in how much I could help people heal – and how I myself could heal. So I pursued other more alternative trainings with a passion, one leading to another, including meditation, hypnosis, breathwork, and shamanic work.

The pursuit of the latter led me to explore and learn about ancient ways of healing from traditional native healers in this country, South America, and Africa.  Those years of intense and diverse (and fascinating!) training and experiences changed my world dramatically and gave me a much larger perspective through which I view healing – a perspective that goes well beyond the western medical model. I have learned of the powerful healing wisdom that exists deep within all of us, the amazing creativity that is our essence, and the necessity of attending to the energetic and spiritual dimensions of healing. I have experienced and witnessed deep healing at all levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – of myself and others.

My greatly expanded view of healing led me to leave my practice of psychiatry in 2005 to fully follow a shamanic path that focused on this deeper nature of healing and transformation. I offer this work of deep healing in my practice in Winston-Salem, in individual healing sessions as well as group classes and workshops.

What does this work entail?

So often, the source of our ailments and suffering lie in aspects of ourselves of which we are not conscious – and which are not often appreciated or understood in our western culture. We are complex beings – and the deeper we go within, the more clearly we can see beliefs, patterns, contradictions, and energetic imbalances that are troublesome.  Healing often entails breaking free of old limiting beliefs, patterns, and traumas, while reconnecting with your own deep inner wisdom, passion, and purpose.

In more concrete terms, healing sessions start by talking about what you are seeking help with as I begin to intuitively sense more deeply into your situation. For most sessions, I offer hands-on healing work with the client laying on the healing table. I create a safe space in which we can open to and track energies, emotions, thoughts, or patterns that need attention. The healing may involve grounding work, clearing of energies, reconnecting to parts of self or Source, balancing, opening to guidance, and more.

At other times I may guide a presencing meditation, helping you to listen to and access aspects of your body, psyche, and soul that have been unseen and unheard for too long. Shamanic hypnosis sessions may also do that, as well as connect in with spiritual guidance or with past lives that need healing.

A note regarding the spiritual aspects of my work: Although there is a spiritual component to shamanic work, it is not religious in any way and there is no dogma or set belief system. When I use the term ‘spiritual’, I mean it in the largest sense, regarding our deepest essence and our relationship with all of creation. I always respect and honor a client’s personal beliefs and faith (or non-faith) as we work together. 

People often ask what kinds of issues or illnesses I help people with. If someone feels drawn or called to work with me, it’s good to listen to that even if you’re not sure why.  That said, most often I find myself helping people with trauma, depression, anxiety, and/or fatigue, as well as those who are seeking more meaning and purpose, a deeper spiritual connection, and/or overall increased health, vitality, and passion for life. I also mentor other healers and health care professionals.

I view a path of healing as one that not only helps to heal illness, but also moves us towards more peace, vitality, and deep connection. A path that helps us access deeper levels of wisdom, intuition, meaning and purpose. A path that brings us more balance and allows for more joy and love. A path that opens us to deeper relationships with ourselves, others, and the world around us.

Sandy Phocas is a shamanic practitioner and workshop leader in Winston-Salem NC. She can be found online at