American Specialty Health Network Excludes Many “Complementary” Methods


Stephen Barrett, M.D.
March 11, 2013

American Specialty Health, Inc. (ASH) has published detailed clinical practice guidelines for 74 “complementary” techniques and procedures, most of which are used mainly by chiropractors. The documents indicate:

  • None of these methods would not be covered under the plan because they are considered unsubstantiated, unsafe, or both.
  • 71 of the methods are classified as experimental or investigational because credible scientific evidence is inadequate to support their claimed applications.
  • 51 of the methods are scientifically implausible because they require the existence of forces, mechanisms, or biological processes that are not known to exist within the existing framework of scientific knowledge.
  • 68 of the methods are considered unsafe, either directly or indirectly. The potential harm can be:
    • Direct: Injury caused by a physical or psychodynamic property of a procedure.
    • Indirect: caused by substituting a procedure of unknown safety, unknown effectiveness, or known significant risk for one of known safety or effectiveness.
    • Non-specific: caused by the transmittal of misleading information that can cause emotional harm, cause a false sense of security, or create beliefs about one’s health that are manifestly untrue.
  • 53 of the methods would render the practitioner ineligible to participate in the network.

In 2013, ASH administered benefit programs for 31 million members and affinity discount programs for over 88 million members. Its practitioner network includes more than 28,000 acupuncturists, chiropractors, dietitians, massage therapists, and naturopaths. A few of the reports are not sufficiently critical. However, the rest are remarkable because (a) many of the implausible practices—most notably applied kinesiology—are widely used, (b) chiropractic organizations almost never criticize them, and (c) managed care companies almost never use implausible practices as a criterion for excluding providers.

 Method

Experimental
or Unsupported

Scientifically
Implausible

Unsafe

Unacceptable
for Network

Acutonics / Sonotonics

x
x
indirect
x
Activator Instrument Manipulation
x

Addictionology

x
indirect
x

Advanced Biostructural Correction (ABC)

x
x
indirect
x

Applied Kinesiology (AK)

x
x
indirect
x

Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy

x
x
x
x

Axial Decompression Therapy

x
?
Ayurvedic Medicine
x

Bach Flower Remedies

x
x
indirect
x

Bio Energetic Synchronization Technique (BEST)

x
x
indirect
x

Bio-Cranial Therapy

x
x
indirect
x

Bioenergetic Sensitivity and Enzyme Therapy (BioSet)

x
x
indirect
x

Bio-Geometric Integration (BGI)

x
x
indirect
x

Biological Terrain Assessment (BTA)

x
x
indirect
x

BioMeridian (MSA Machine)

x
x
indirect
x

Clinical Kinesiology (CK)

x
x
indirect
x

Colonic Irrigation

x
x
x

Colorpuncture

x
x
indirect
x
 Method

Experimental or Unsupported

Scientifically
Implausible

Unsafe

Unacceptable
for Network

Concept Therapy

x
x
indirect
x

Contact Reflex Analysis (CRA)

x
x
indirect
x

Craniosacral Therapy (CST)

x
x
indirect
x

Current Perception Threshold (CPT)-Sensory Nerve Conduction Threshold (sNCT)

x
indirect

Diagnostic Ultrasound – Spinal/Paraspinal

x
indirect

Directional Non-Force Technique (DNFT)

x
x
indirect
x
Ear Candling
x
x
x
x

ElectroAcupuncture by Voll (EAV)

x
x
indirect
x

Electrodermal Screening Test (EDST)

x
x
indirect
x

Force/Functional Recording and Analysis System (FRAS)

x
indirect

Functional Leg Length Inequality

x
indirect

Gemstone and Crystal Therapy

x
x
indirect
x

Holistic Kinesiology

x
x
indirect
x

Homeopathy

x
indirect

Infratonic/Infrasonic or Qi Gong Machine (QGGM)

x
x
indirect
x

Intradermal Needles (Needle Implants/Ear Tacks)

x
x
Inversion therapy
x
indirect
x

Iridology

x
x
indirect
x

Jaffe-Mellor Technique

x
x
indirect
x
 Method

Experimental or Unsupported

Scientifically
Implausible

Unsafe

Unacceptable
for Network

Live Blood Cell Analysis

x
x
indirect
x

Logan Basic Technique

x
indirect

Magnet Therapy – Static

x
indirect

Manipulation Under Anesthesia (MUA) – Spinal

x
direct

Manual Muscle Testing – Internal/Visceral Functional Disorders

x
x
indirect
x

Manual Muscle Testing – Psychological Disorders

x
x
indirect
x
Matrix Repatterning
x
x
x
Moxibustion – Direct
x
direct
x

Moxibustion – Indirect

direct
x

Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET)

x
x
indirect
x

Nasium Vertex X-Ray Views

x
indirect
x

Network Spinal Analysis

x
x
x

Neuro Emotional Technique (NET)

x
x
inditect
x

Neuro Organizational Technique (NOT)

x
x
indirect
x

Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP)

x
x
indirect
x

Neurolink

x
x
indirect
x

Neurovascular Dynamics (NVD)

x
x
indirect
x

New-Stim Bio-Kinetics

x
x
indirect
x

Organ/Visceral Manipulation

x
x
direct
x
 Method

Experimental or Unsupported

Scientifically
Implausible

Unsafe

Unacceptable
for Network

Ortho-Bionomy

x
x
indirect
x
Polarity (Energetic) Healing
x
x
indirect
x
Prolonged fasting programs
x

Radionics

x
x
indirect
x

Reflexology

x
x
indirect
x

Reiki

x
x
indirect
x

Ryodoraku and Electro Meridian Imaging (EMI)

x
x
indirect
x

Sacro Occipital Technique (SOT) – Diagnostic

x
indirect
x

Surface Electromyography (SEMG)

x
indirect

Surrogate Testing

x
x
indirect
x
Therapeutic Touch
x
x
x

Thermography

x
indirect

Toftness Radiation Detector

x
x
indirect
x

Total Body Modification

x
x
indirect
x

Upper Cervical Adjusting Techinques

x
x
direct

Vector Point Cranial Therapy

x
x
indirect
x

Vegatesting

x
x
direct
x

Videonystagmography (VNG)

x
indirect
x

Webster Technique

x
indirect
x
 Totals

71

51

68

53

This article was posted on March 11, 2013.