According to statistics released in July 2009 from a nationwide government survey, U.S. adults spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket over the previous 12 months on visits to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners and purchases of CAM products, classes and materials.
CAM is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices and products such as acupuncture, massage therapy, herbal supplements, meditation, and chiropractic that are not generally considered to be part of conventional medicine.
Approximately 38 percent of adults use some form of CAM for health and wellness or to treat a variety of diseases and conditions, according to data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).
"With so many Americans using and spending money on CAM therapies, it is extremely important to know whether the products and practices they use are safe and effective," said Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., director of NCCAM. "This underscores the importance of conducting rigorous research and providing evidence-based information on CAM so that health care providers and the public can make well-informed decisions."
Of the $33.9 billion spent on CAM out-of-pocket, an estimated $22.0 billion was spent on self-care costs—CAM products, classes and materials—with the majority going to the purchase of nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products ($14.8 billion) such as fish oil, glucosamine and Echinacea.
U.S. adults also spent approximately $11.9 billion on an estimated 354.2 million visits to CAM practitioners such as acupuncturists, massage therapists and chiropractors.
The $14.8 billion spent on nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products is equivalent to approximately one-third of total out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs, and the $11.9 billion spent on CAM practitioner visits is equivalent to approximately one-quarter of total out-of-pocket spending on physician visits.
"These data indicate that the U.S. public makes millions of visits to CAM providers each year and spends billions of dollars for these services, as well as for self-care forms of CAM," said Richard L. Nahin, Ph.D., MPH, acting director of NCCAM's Division of Extramural Research. "While these expenditures represent just a small fraction of total health care spending in the United States, they constitute a substantial part of out-of-pocket health care costs."
For information about Acupuncture & Massage College’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs call Joe Calareso, Admissions Director, at (305) 595-9500.