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In Brief . . .

HMOs Get a Bit 'Unconventional'

September 29, 1997

Two health maintenance organizations, Blue Shield of California and Health Net, have joined the growing ranks of medical groups offering alternative care.

In January, employers can purchase acupuncture riders to their health plans from both groups.

Blue Shield also will launch Lifepath, a network of chiropractors, acupuncture practitioners, massage therapists and stress management seminars, as well as discounts at fitness clubs and services.

Health Net has included chiropractors since 1990.

In a recent Harvard University Medical School study, more than one-third of respondents said they used at least one "unconventional therapy" during the past year.

Many physicians already use complementary and alternative therapies, representatives from both groups said.

"Our goal is to help our members be healthy and well, so we are enthusiastic about offering complementary medicine options that are safe and effective," said Dr. Arthur M. Southam, Health Net president and CEO.

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