Alternative Medicine Spending Soars
The amount of money that Americans are shelling out for herbal supplements, meditation, acupuncture and other forms of "alternative" medical care is continuing to skyrocket, according to a new government data out today.
Americans spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket on "complementary and alternative" or CAM therapies in 2007, according to the nationally representative survey of nearly 24,000 adults conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.
About $22 billion of that was for products, including classes, materials and non-vitamin, non-mineral natural products such as fish oil, glucosamine and Echinacea. Most of that -- $14.8 billion -- was for the supplements, according to the results, which were released by the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The rest, about $11.9 billion, was for an estimated 354.2 million visits to acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists and other CAM practitioners.
To put the numbers in context, the $14.8 billion is equivalent to about one-third of out-of-pocket spending for regular prescription drugs, and the $11.9 billion is equivalent to about one-quarter of out-of-pocket spending for regular doctors visits.
All together, alternative medical care accounts for about 1.5 percent of the nation's total health care bill of $2.2 trillion and 11.2 percnet of out-of-pocket expenses.
The last time someone calculated how much Americans spent on alternative medicinent was in 1997, when the total was estimated to be about $27 billion.
An estimated 38 percent of adults use some form of CAM to treat a variety of disease and conditions. Officials say the popularity of the therapies make it important for carefully conducted studies to evaluate their effectiveness.
Critics say that despite the increasing popularity of these treatments, very little good research has been done to validate their usefulness and the studies that have been done have largely found them to be ineffective. Some dietary supplement products have been found to be dangerous. The Food and Drug Administration, for example, issued a warning earlier this week not to use some dietary supplements sold as body-building products because they might cause liver and kidney problems.
What do you think? Are you a believer and user of alternative medicine? Or a skeptic?
July 30, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories: Alternative and Complementary Medicine , Family Health , General Health , Health Policy , Yoga
Save & Share: Previous: FDA Rules Mercury Amalgam Fillings Safe
Next: Is That Right? "Eating organic food just makes sense."
Posted by: DupontJay | July 30, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tonyholst | July 30, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Cosmo2 | July 30, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: robertj1 | July 30, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: drmary | July 30, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: GaiasChild | July 30, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: TLS2 | July 30, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kate1dc | August 5, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kate1dc | August 5, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Grace10 | August 5, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.