Yoga Therapy for People with Disabling Chronic Health Conditions
Did you know that Medicare and some health insurance plans cover yoga therapy for people with disabling health conditions? Research has found that yoga helps people change poor lifestyle habits that have led to some of the most common – and costly – chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancers, arthritis, obesity, back pain and depression.
The High Price for Poor Health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “more than 75% of health care costs are due to chronic conditions.” You will find these conditions listed among Social Security’s list of qualifying impairments for disability benefits in the publication “Disability Evaluation under Social Security,” also known as the SSA Blue Book.
Lifestyles Choices for Better Health
The CDC says these serious diseases are preventable. Nutrition and exercise are key factors to prevention. But what if you already have a chronic health condition? Is it possible to reverse the damage done?
Dr. Dean Ornish of the Preventive Medicine Institute has proven through years of medical research, that lifestyle changes that include practicing yoga can reverse serious chronic health conditions such as heart disease. He also convinced Medicare to cover his yoga therapy program, which includes “nutrition, stress management, exercise and support” so that patients pursuing better health would be reimbursed for their costs.
In a CNN interview Ornish said, “ The reason that I spent 16 years working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to achieve Medicare coverage for our program is that I knew that most insurance companies follow Medicare’s lead. In other words, if Medicare covered our program, most other insurance companies would, as well.”
Due to the positive reversal of heart disease in patients who followed his yoga therapy program, it is now officially called an intensive cardiac rehab program covered by Medicare.
Health Insurance Coverage for Yoga Therapy
Thanks to Dr. Ornish’s extensive research and persistence, more insurance companies now reimburse patients seeking to improve health through preventive lifestyle programs such as yoga therapy. It makes perfect sense since the cost is far less than major surgeries or providing prescription drugs for the chronically ill.
What are the Health Benefits of Yoga?
The practice of Yoga is centuries old, but modern medicine is just tapping in to how it can help restore health. Here are some key benefits:
- Improves flexibility, balance and all-over body strength
- Improve muscle tone and range-of-motion capabilities
- Boosts energy and endurance levels
- Builds core strength and improves posture
- Relieves joint pain and muscle fatigue
- Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
- Improves lung capacity
- Increases oxygen levels to the brain
- Improves memory and mood
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Boosts the immune system
If you have a pre-existing health condition, yoga therapy may help you feel better. Check with your doctor to make sure that it’s okay to try yoga. Find a reputable yoga therapist to guide you. Take it slow. Enjoy.