Chinese Health Insurance... Something to Ponder!

< Back to all blogs

Chinese Health Insurance... Something to Ponder!

Acupuncture in ancient China

It is fascinating to learn how the medical system, and payment of acupuncturists and herbalists in ancient China, operated. It is so vastly opposite from our current system, where doctor’s compensation increases directly proportional to how sick the population is, that I think just understanding the difference can help us gain a perspective that might help us to improve our health.

Many acupuncture books tell the story of how, before modern times, “doctors” (acupuncturists and herbalists) were paid to keep their patients well. 

In other words, if a patient got sick while under a doctor’s care, the doctor would have to treat them for free until they recovered. The theory was, that using pulse and tongue diagnosis, if the doctor had been practicing their skill well, they should have been able to diagnose chronic problems long before they occurred, and reverse the imbalance before it turned into symptoms.  (I’m guessing this probably did not include common colds and infections, which would often sweep through as epidemics beyond anyone’s control).

I even read recently in another medical text that the better a reputation a doctor had for their patients staying well, the higher their salary was. 

In other words, people wanted to be under the care of the most popular doctors–those with the reputation for their patients not having medical problems – so they were willing to pay more money to be their patients.

Imagine the implications of this!

There are some things about this that are amazing to consider, and I will point out a few.

1) Medicine must have been seen enormously as preventative, rather than curative:

The general population must have at all times been under the ongoing care of a doctor, regularly getting nutrition advice, acupuncture, and taking herbs based on whatever their pulse and tongue diagnosis revealed. This means patients understood that if you keep yourself well and balanced in the first place, you should not have ailments.

2) This gave huge incentive for doctors to educate their patients on the number one causes of illness and dis-ease, so that they wouldn’t get sick:

In fact, in many of our “Classics” of Chinese medicine, which were written by the most famous doctors in the history of the medicine, one can often see it written that in order to keep or restore health, you should use dietetics first before attempting the use of any other treatment modality.  So they understood that if a patient is eating the right foods to maintain balance, medicines should be often unnecessary. THINK OF THIS! Can you imagine if, when you went to the doctor, rather than handing you a pharmaceutical prescription, they handed you specific food prescriptions that you were to go home and ingest over the next few weeks, to restore wellness in your body?

3)  Medicine must not have been about making money off of society’s suffering:

Modern medicine admits that the number one cause of chronic illness is lifestyle, and namely related to food.  And yet MDs are still not required to take even one nutrition course. 

Does anyone else feel like they entered the Twilight Zone? Hmmmm…. 

Perhaps this has something tiny to do with the fact that if patients start eating well, they’ll need less meds and tests, meaning, less money for all the companies marketing these products and dictating what is taught as orthodoxy in medical schools…something tiny?  Maybe.  ;-)

4)  Patients must have understood their own role in their wellness:

Now I don’t know exactly how the system was set up, but I would imagine that patients understood that if they did not follow the recommendations necessary for staying well, that they would be…un-well.

But, I also know that it was much easier to follow the recommendations before modern times.  Today, we are inundated with junk and stress everywhere we go…housewives cooking nutritious foods at home are virtually a thing of the past; and yet, our need for someone at home providing those stabilizing, health producing foods, did not go away just because housewives did.

How can WE in modern day make use of this philosophy of Preventative Medicine & Lifestyle, and reframe our ideas


I recently hired a “kitchen angel”…she’s a young college nutrition student who just loves to cook, and she comes in once per week for a couple hours and whips through as many of the planned recipes that I’ve put out for her.

Now, I LOVE to cook, and even I need support with eating well due to time issues. 

But it’s easy to rationalize “I can’t afford to eat healthy!”. Yet somehow, we manage to afford the copays for doctors visits and prescriptions…visits that in many cases we would not need if we had invested that money upfront for real food.  We manage to afford the stuff we buy in an attempt to relieve the stress from not taking care of ourselves.

But it’s just not how we see things nowadays.

Today it’s a given that we need to allot enormous sums towards medical bills…we do not reverse the logic and see that we can invest a fraction of that in vibrant, real (and yes, more expensive) food, and avoid a lot of suffering and medical bills in the future.

Activity and Self-Care

Of course, it isn’t just food that prevents illness.  It’s exercise. 

  • We can think of that “yoga pass” or gym membership that we “can’t afford”, as health insurance also, just as much as we can our higher food bill for choosing real food over processed or poor quality.
  • Or those bi-weekly massages that we “can’t afford” that completely de-stress us and help us sleep better, decreasing our need for sleep meds. 
  • Maybe those Tai-Qi classes that we “don’t have time for” because we have too much work, will actually keep us so balanced that we will miss way less work due to illness or fatigue.
  • And of course, I use Chinese medicine all the time to keep myself balanced and well, just as was done in ancient China.

Prevention AS health insurance

So think of prevention as your own private health insurance, like they did in China.

With health insurance, you pay money upfront to avoid major bills later.  With this Chinese style health insurance, you pay money upfront towards whatever you need to stay healthy in the first place.

Sounds like a great plan to me!

If you’d like to start acupuncture as part of your preventative health-care plan, schedule an appointment by clicking below!

Schedule an Appointment

Tags: preventative medicine healthy lifestyle