Ask LH: How Can I Persuade My Doctor To Recommend Yoga?

Dear Lifehacker, I've recently changed my health insurance policy and am now able to claim on yoga classes but they need to be "medically recommended". I need my doctor to fill in some sort of form; do I just take it and be upfront about this or should I "fake" an ailment that would be helped by yoga? Is there any reason why a doctor would not fill in some sort of form to medically recommend yoga for me? Thanks, Downward Dog

Yoga picture from Shutterstock

Dear DD,

Your doctor is a busy person so why waste their time by concocting fake ailments and undergoing pointless physical assessments? This is pretty juvenile, and probably wont fool someone with medical training anyway.

Even if you do trick them into believing there's something wrong with you, there's no guarantee they'll actually recommend yoga. They may even advise against it. Plus, you'll need to show them the insurance form eventually, at which point the cat will be out of the bag.

Also, there could be an underlying medical issue that makes yoga risky for you -- if so, your doctor really needs to know about it. Creating non-existent ailments could lead to a misdiagnosis and a Crane Pose-induced injury.

The best approach is to be direct and ask. As our colleagues at Business Insider recently demonstrated, it's notoriously easy to get certificates from general practitioners -- even if you admit you're not sick.

Give the form to your doctor and explain in detail why you think yoga would benefit you medically. If they refuse to help, it might be time to find yourself a new doctor.

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    Faking ailments to secure benefits that would otherwise not be provided under your policy, would be classed as insurance fraud. If they discovered what you were doing, you could find yourself facing criminal charges, if the insurance company chose to pursue it.

      True, but the medical benefits of yoga are pretty wishy-washy; you could probably make a case for it benefiting you regardless of the ailment.

        There are quite a few proven benefits, just plenty of made up ones too.

    Just be honest with your doctor.
    Say you want to do yoga, and if they would be so kind as to provide you with a medical recommendation so that your insurance will pay for it.

    I wish it was that easy for me, not long ago I was sick with tonsillitis and had obvious symptoms for 2 weeks and after 3 visits to the doctor they gave me a total of 3 days off work. its like they are too scared to give people time off work to recover!!!! good luck getting them to sign away for free yoga

      Sounds like a shitty doctor, you need to shop around for one who actually recognizes that 'soldiering on' when sick can make conditions worse and symptoms persist for longer.

    I didn't realise people paid to do yoga. I always thought it's more the kind of thing you can just watch a youtube video and presto, you're an expert.

    This sounds a lot like "I want to do Yoga, i changed my Insurance so i could get it for free, but now i have to justify it, how do I convince my doctor to give it to me for free"

    Just pay for it if you want it and have no legitimate reason for it.

    Also, i'd like to point out how terrible it is to suggest someone get a new doctor just because said doctor won't give you a certificate for yoga that may or may not be medically useful. Just because you want it, and just because you changed your insurance so you can get it for free, does not oblige your doctor to help you do it.

    Not to mention that if you shop around for a doctor that basically helps you commit insurance fraud (we're assuming there is no medical reason, otherwise you wouldn't need to 'trick' your doctor into doing it) is not, really, the kind of doctor you want in the first place

    Last edited 03/04/14 6:18 pm

    Most doctors would fall into one of the following groups when explored for honest opinions on referrals to yoga:
    1. There is no evidence yoga provides any benefit, but if my patient is pushing me for this referral, why should I care? It can't do any harm. Just make sure you come back to me for any future medical problems.
    2. There is no evidence for yoga. And referrals to such services waste resources. So, no, I will not support this.
    3. I have no strong feelings about yoga. You want me to refer you? Fine, whatever. Here it is. Next.

    Last edited 03/04/14 7:26 pm

    Your last sentence is a terrible idea borne from a sense of entitlement and an overinflatted idea of your own understanding of health. If your doctor doesn't think yoga is good for your health then get another doctor? Why not try and enter the discussion, ask questions and see what they've got to say about it instead of picking up your bat and ball and going home? Maybe going to your yoga classes is going to have a negligible impact on your health? Maybe your doctor actually has a reasonable handle on this? It's not like insurance companies have a solid handle on this stuff, they do after all give rebates for chiropracty.

      The insurance companies probably know most doctors' stance on yoga and other alternative "medicine" practices. Thus offering this yoga option to attract customers, whilst thinking not many doctors will actually refer their patients. Perhaps.

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