While modern medicine is capable of performing miracles when it comes to saving people in emergencies, it’s hard to say objectively that it has its patients’ best interests at heart when it comes to preventing disease and helping them find a long-lasting state of well being.
Health insurance, with its exorbitant premiums and focus on “What would happen if…” or symptom and disease management rather than actual health, is one of the many weak points of the current system.
But what if there was a healthcare plan that actually helped patients to achieve wellness in a holistic way through organic, healthy food, wellness practices like yoga and massage, and much more?
That’s what ‘Integrity: The Holistic Community Health Plan’ aims to provide. Started in 2009 by Theresa Callard-Moore, the company is currently working to register and connect holistic healthcare practices across the country while working to promote their practices.
Recently, the company’s founder Theresa Callard-Moore joined AltHealthWORKS for an interview on her vision for the company, holistic health care in general and what the plan entails (you can also find their Facebook page here and their website here).
AHW: How did you get into holistic health and what made you decide to launch a holistic health care organization?
TCM: I have always had one of those personalities that invited people to tell me all of their problems. And if you were lucky enough to sit in front of me in class, I would often give back rubs just for fun. The mind/body connection just made sense to me.
I started out in high school wanting to be a therapist, specifically a Sex Therapist, and teaching others about how the body worked and how to have safe sex. My mother was a nurse, so I was always familiar with the medical side of things. After graduating with my Masters Degree in Social Work, I started to practice as an out-patient therapist and found myself very curious about how the physical symptoms, such as high blood pressure, related to symptoms of stress.
But we were only supposed to focus on the mental health aspect and to ‘ignore’ the physical issues or refer them somewhere else for that. I was also always curious about Reiki. I thought maybe I could learn about energy work and address some of the physical symptoms to compliment talk therapy. After taking the first level of Reiki, I was “home.” It made sense to me and so the additional trainings began and everything I learned was only effective when I combined it with other therapies or approaches.
I found myself seeking out other holistic providers and I would case manage my clients progress. My patients got better much faster and I was having a blast! In the spring of 2009, I attended a sex addiction certification training and I asked the presenter, “Do you offer supplements or Reiki to your patients?” He said he didn’t and I felt like I just had broken some cardinal rule.
Later he approached me and asked me what research I had done, what results I was seeing, and when could I present at the next conference. I was floored! And then I panicked! I couldn’t do research on top of my private practice and having a family. All I knew is that my patients were getting better. If I did do that research, who would I share it with? Who would listen to one social worker in Flint, Michigan?
I was coming back to my hotel that night and I had an epiphany…if I were the insurance company…I could do all of it. I could cover holistic methods, I could collect research about the health benefits, and I could share that with the world. That is about the same time that the Affordable Health Care Act was taking shape and I remember yelling at the radio on my way to work one day, “Is that really the best you could come up with?” I decided to take my idea and find the way to make it happen because I believe that holistic methods are the true wellness and prevention methods that everyone is looking for, but the benefits are still not openly recognized by the traditional medical community. I believe I found a way to collect the research about the benefits and raise money to lobby to help fund the Integrative Movement.
AHW: Talk about how your holistic health plan would differ from “mainstream health insurance.” Also, what would the relationship be between these two different approaches?
TCM: Well, let’s look at the difference between our homeowners’ insurance, our car insurance, and our health insurance. We are now required to pay for all three, but the use of the medical coverage is very different from the other two. I know that I do regular maintenance on my car such as putting gas in it, changing the oil, and washing it. I also do maintenance on my home such as cleaning it, painting, and fixing the deck. I avoid ever calling my insurance company, unless I am in a serious accident. But our health insurance is often times over used and misused by many. These drive all of our prices up. I know there are people like me who eat organic food, exercise, and do other ‘health maintenance’ and yet we are now forced to do certain medical exams or tests under the idea that it is prevention or wellness.
We believe that it is your money, your health, and your choice how you do that maintenance. We also want to create a system where a thermography (breast) exam will be recognized along with a mammogram. Well, Integrity’s membership card could be offered as a rider to complement the traditional insurance coverage, and bridge the wellness and prevention gap. It is designed to make it a little easier for those people who want to take charge of their health and help them save money while doing it!
Integrity is currently in Phase I, which is a national online holistic directory. Now there are a few holistic directories, but we made ours interactive. The Holistic Providers are able to put a great deal of information about themselves and their practice so you, the customer, can make the best choice on where you want to go. We have made it very affordable for all levels of Holistic Providers to sign up on the our website, www.MyHolisticApproach.com. The cost is only $199 a year. It is free for customers to find providers in their area and leave star ratings and testimonials about the providers. But we have NEVER wanted to be just a directory. Our goal is to raise some capital to build Phase II, which is the membership discount directory.
AHW: What are some of the examples of holistic health service providers and disciplines that have signed up with you? And can you give us a basic example of what people would get out of a membership each month?
TCM: We currently have 30 different types of Holistic Providers or services on the directory, from Floatation Therapy to Integrative Medicine. There is no limit to the types of holistic services that can be placed on the directory. The ones listed are shown because there is a provider offering that service. Integrity is currently in Phase I, which is a national online holistic directory. Now there are a few holistic directories, but we made ours interactive. The Holistic Providers are able to put in a great deal of information about themselves and their practice so you, the customer, can make the best choice on where you want to go. We have made it very affordable for all levels of Holistic Providers to sign up on the our website www.MyHolisticApproach.com. The Holistic Providers will decide what types of cash discounts they will offer to the customer.
For example, I am a Holistic Psychotherapist and I would normally charge $70 a session. If you were an Integrity member, I would charge you $50. Thus, you would save your $20 membership back in one visit. I am able to use your insurance, until your coverage is expired, then I switch it to the Integrity cash discount. Then you could take your card to a yoga class, the health food store, etc. Every time you use it (by swiping it at the providers office) it will track what your doing to stay healthy and save you money.
It will also send you an email to rate your provider or log into your HIPAA compliant holistic health record and track the instructions from your provider. I feel this is an important component of the Integrity program, because I know I take many supplements. For example, I had to go into the ER for some health concerns last year. When they asked me what medications I was taking I was not able to remember them all at that time. If you have a holistic medical record you can choose who you want to share that information with, such as another holistic provider.
AHW: Why do you think that there is currently no major company that provides holistic health insurance or healthcare services yet, and what are the current challenges to making this venture take off?
TCM: I am not a researcher, however, I know there are many Holistic Organizations and Educational Institutions that have proven that holistic methods are cost effective and beneficial. So, why are we still explaining to our doctor the benefits of seeing the Chiropractor? The amount of money that Big Pharma has available for research can not compare to the little money that is set for Integrative Medicine. Integrity wants to change that. The membership money that we collect from the members is going to go towards three things: community health education and mass media promotion to educate the public that holistic health methods are available and effective; to pay for the research needed; and to lobby and educate the medical and government agencies about the Integrative Movement. I am reaching out to those Holistic Organizations to join with me in making that happen. If we join together, we can make all of the difference.
AHW: Your service would also include discounts or buyer’s clubs on healthy organic food, correct? Tell us more about this aspect.
TCM: I did mention this earlier, but nutrition and organic food deserves its own answer. I believe that we, as a nation, are malnourished and we know we have an epidemic of obesity. I believe that no matter what holistic method you use, if you are not putting good nutrition into your body, it will not function properly. Integrity reserves a cornerstone spot for nutrition to be offered at every community event or workshop. We want to be a part of the farm to table movement, Non-GMO, and organic movements to make that happen. So far, we have partnered with NANP, National Association of Nutritional Professionals, to work together on that goal.
AHW: What is the one thing that has surprised you the most about your quest to create this business, and this business model so far?
TCM: How much lawyers cost! How much advertising costs! And the pure spirit of my staff, who have basically worked for free for the past four years because they believe we can help people stay healthy by holistic methods. I am also grateful for my colleagues and family members who have helped me fund this on my own so far. I have not had one person say to me “that is a dumb idea”, what I have heard is “why haven’t we done this sooner?”
I was surprised that I could not structure our business as a non-profit because I wanted to give the money back to the holistic organizations and the community. I learned that if I pay taxes on it first, we can send the money to where it needs to go. Now I need the holistic organizations to join together and decide what to do with the research and the funds raised.
AHW: Do you think that most people are aware of the possibilities that a holistic healthcare system holds? And if so, why not?
TCM: I don’t think people know where to start. My favorite patient is the one that has gone to this doctor and that doctor and is tired of taking medicine for the symptoms that the other medicine creates. It’s then that a friend suggests a holistic provider and a whole new world opens up. Once we build Phase II, Integrity will offer Holistic Health Coaches to help review the health survey and find providers in the area for those clients who don’t know where to start.
AHW: You’re located in Michigan right now. Do you have roots in other states yet?
TCM: Many of our providers are located in Michigan where we have launched. We had two in Florida sign up last year. However, we have designed it for any provider in the United States to sign up today. It is designed to interact with the providers’ current patients and build his or her word of mouth and networking referrals. We are looking to hire Integrators in other states to help start the community health plan grass movement. Integrators would be natural networkers that currently use holistic providers. They would earn commission on the listings and organize the community events. We will eventually be hiring Health Coaches in every state also.
AHW: What is the next step you need to take to get to the next level?
TCM: Our goal is to raise awareness about what Integrity is all about and how it will benefit Providers, Consumers and Holistic Organizations. Everyone who participates will make money or save money. We need to raise $50,000 to finish building Phase II. It will take about 6 months to complete once we obtain the funds. Then we will start marketing and hiring staff. As I said, advertising is very expensive. We are planning to use things like Facebook and newsletters to keep the grass roots movement going. This article is a big step in that direction. Thank you, Nick!
AHW: How can people help, and is the company developed enough for them to start signing up as members just yet? If so, in what areas? Right now members can look to the website to find holistic providers.
TCM: The membership discount will not be available until we build Phase II. We are currently asking for the community to help us by:
- Going to and sharing our website www.myholisticapproach.com
- Liking us and sharing our content on our Facebook page (we are currently doing a likes campaign and giving away an Apple TV and an iPad Mini).
- Signing up for our newsletter on our website
- If you’re a provider, sign up to get a listing and start networking in your area
- If you’re a natural networker, go to the employment opportunities and become an Integrator
- Help us by supporting our crowd funding campaign starting in March. We are asking for community contributions to help us raise $50,000 to finish building the membership directory part of the website (and to pay for the lawyers!)
AHW: Thank you for your time.
TCM: Thanks again for having me.
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