Frequently Asked Questions

Let me answer your most common questions about choosing and working with a naturopathic doctor:

Dr Sara Norris, ND on a palm tree lined street

Are Naturopathic Doctors real doctors?

Yep! Naturopathic Doctors attend federally accredited, 4-year medical school, just like MDs. They receive a naturopathic medical degree, which is recognized as one type of medical degree by the Department of Education in the United States. The training is in the same medical sciences as an MD (pharmaceuticals, imaging, labs, etc.), with additional studies in herbal medicine, nutrition, counseling, homeopathy, and more. Learn more about Naturopathic Medicine. 

What about holistic health, functional medicine, and naturopaths?

There are a lot of vaguely similar (and similarly vague!) terms floating around out there, often being used interchangeably by patients and practitioners alike.

Naturopathic Doctors are actual doctors. Here’s a quick glossary of some other modalities:

What is functional medicine?

Functional doctors or practitioners are usually MDs or other medically trained providers who go back to conferences and seminars to learn how to practice like an ND. Functional medicine doctors just denote that someone with a doctorate in medicine (MD or DO) has studied functional medicine. If you are seeing a ND you are getting functional medical care. 

What is holistic health?

Holistic health doesn’t describe any specific medical approach; it’s more of an indicator that the whole body is being considered (as opposed to isolating a symptom or symptoms). In that light, naturopathic medicine, chinese medicine, and ayurvedic medicine could all be said to have a holistic approach.

What is energy healing?

The application of modalities (like acupuncture) where needles or massage are used to affect the flow of energy or chi throughout the body. Can also be applied to various other alternative medicine modalities.

What is a naturopath?

A naturopath is a lay term to describe anyone with limited training in naturopathic medicine. A naturopath does not go to medical school, like a Naturopathic Doctor does. Most naturopaths attend limited classes and seminars to learn specific aspects of holistic care. Naturopaths are essentially health coaches who advise about natural medicine, but they are not doctors. 

Why does it cost so much? / Is this worth my money?

To answer this question, you need to understand the laws in California (as they relate to naturopathic medicine). Unfortunately, there isn’t any legislation mandating insurance companies to cover visits with your naturopathic doctor, which means Dr. Norris isn’t in-network with any insurance plans. 

As long as naturopathic medicine remains an out-of-pocket expense, it may seem more expensive than conventional medicine. But when you add up the cost of co-pays, high deductibles, and the increasing destabilization of the American healthcare complex—plus the unseen costs that accrue when these treatment options are ineffective (not to mention the lifetime costs associated with pharmaceuticals)—ND’s are kiiiind of a bargain.

If you want to be seen by a doctor who spends more time with you, listens well, and treats you with naturally based medicine and conventional pharmaceuticals (if needed)—well, you’ve found her.

If you have a PPO, you may be able to get reimbursed by your insurance plan. Since I am considered a PCP (primary care provider) in California, your PPO plan will cover labs and imaging, and should reimburse you for some of your visit. I can provide you with any forms you need for this. 

You will also not need to see me for the rest of your life. Most of my patients are able to resolve their acute issues within 4-6 appointments, and then just schedule subsequent appointments as needed.

Are there ANY insurance plans that cover Naturopathic Doctors?

Some plans, including certain health sharing ministries, offer reimbursement for office visits, labs, and even some supplements. Most of the time, you’ll need specific documentation in order to receive reimbursement.

If you have an insurance plan that allows you to see “out of network” providers (typically labeled as a PPO plan) you can often get reimbursed for 70-90% of your cost. We can provide you with the forms you’ll need, called a superbill, we’ve even created a form to help you discuss reimbursement with your insurance provider.

Contact your insurance provider to find out exactly what’s covered when you see an “out of network” doctor.

I live outside of California, can you see me?

Unfortunately, I can only see people who live or reside in California. I have a medical degree as a Naturopathic Doctor, and I am only licensed to practice in California. Based on California medical license laws I only am licensed to see someone who lives or resides in California at the time of their initial appointment.

I still want to keep my PCP or gynecologist, just in case. Is that okay?

Absolutely, this is really ideal. If you have insurance, I want you to be able to use your in-network doctor as much as you can to reduce your costs. Ideally your doctor is open to a multitude of approaches, knows their limits, and wants you to find the best possible treatment, whether it comes from their office or not.

Have more questions?

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Dr. Sara Norris is a telemedicine Naturopathic Doctor specializing in women’s health, hormones, skin, and digestive health based in Los Angeles and serving you via phone or video anywhere in California.

Mailing address  2275 Huntington Dr #238, San Marino, CA 91108
Phone  (323) 844-3374
Fax  (866) 469-2721