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Should Insurance Companies Pay For Preventive Care?

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Should government pay for preventive care? Should insurance companies? This topic has been coming up lately around the studio. We encourage people to come to class frequently to give them the best possible benefits. The once a week Strala class is fine for relaxation, or a fun social activity, but if you are interested in cultivating a healthy mind and body, more regular practice is necessary.

This brings many people to the problem of managing their already tight budgets. In New York City it tends to break down something like this: Rent, food, insurance, fun. Similar to the fundamental problem of the food diary, we forget to account for mindless spending as well as mindless calories. Clothing and drinks seem most always to get left off the list. I see people complaining on Facebook that they don't have enough money for yoga and in the same message planning to meet their friends out later for drinks.

I do understand what it's like to struggle and be concerned about money. I've been there. I think because of a variety of factors from my childhood leading up to now, I will always feel like I am struggling in some way. That's a whole other cause for stress that leads to sickness. We offer a free (bailout) class once a week at the studio open to anyone. We even offer full and partial scholarships, but in my experience, people don't appreciate what they don't pay for. I'd rather have someone hand the studio $200 cash and we give them back some of it every time they come to class until it's all back in their wallet, than hand out scholarships to someone who heads to the bar or Urban Outfitters after. We're all here together to get healthy and feel good, so we can live our best lives. We want to be surrounded by people cultivating the same for themselves.

It's all where your priorities are. You have to want it for yourself. A regular practice puts you back in touch with you. You don't need all the stuff to be happy.

The question has come up a few times in the studio if insurance companies would cover preventive care. Many companies do, which is fantastic, and smart. Rodale, the publisher of Men's and Women's Health magazines, also publisher of my first book, out Aug 31, 2010, Slim Calm Sexy (shameless self promotion in spirit of HuffPo blogging) reimburses their employees for yoga classes. Other companies have similar policies. A few people I've met at the studio have had strong recommendations by their doctors to practice yoga for specific cases like high blood pressure and vertigo, but as a general practice I really don't think insurance companies and government are there yet.

How would insurance companies make money from healthy people? They wouldn't. Hospitals would be ghost towns. Diabetes and heart disease would become an epidemic of the past. Pharmacies would become dusty and irrelevant. No more need to prescribe anything for anxiety, depression, insomnia or weight loss. Viagra would go out of business because people would be having the best sex of their lives, and if they are too old or not in the mood, they would realize that it's not appropriate to take a pill to get it up. People would make better choices, be happy from the inside out, and actually be nice to each other. People would choose careers that they actually wanted to do, rather than follow a path out of fear of failure, or desire to build protective piles of cash around themselves. People would care about things less and people more.

That reality will never be a decision of insurance companies, or government. That has to be a movement of the people. You have to want it for yourself. You have to be healthy because you want to. Waiting for an outside authority to shine the light for us - whether a doctor, insurance company, or whatever - will never work so well as taking back our responsibility and making our own choices. We all have to find our own way and there are people that can help you along the way to get there. Just look around.

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