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Integrated Medicine: Taking Charge

Here's how to make integrated care work for you

Bone up
To find out about the full range of alternative therapies, search the database at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. You can also call 888-644-6226, or go to www.nccam.nih.gov.

Come clean
Tell your doctor about all supplements and alternative therapies you're considering or already trying. If he or she can't effectively guide your choices, get a second opinion or find a new physician.

Snoop around
Trained medical professionals certified in integrated care are available in many parts of the country. The University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine, founded by Andrew Weil, M.D., trains physicians from around the world, and practicing graduates can be located at www.integrativemedicine.arizona.edu.

Insure yourself
Your carrier should cover physicals and other consultations by integrated-care physicians, as it would for any other medical doctors, but insurance companies may not cover all tests or treatments in an integrated-care plan. Check your policy: some may offer riders for certain therapies.

Hit the road
Research integrated-care programs in other states. Most of M.D. Anderson's integrated services are free to "all people touched by cancer," according to hospital policy. The three-month Healing Hearts program at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine costs $2,800 out of pocket. Many health centers also have low-cost housing on or near the campus.

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