Americans Spending More for Non-medical Healthcare

Several news stories recently reported on the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine study released on July 30, 2009 titled, “Costs of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Frequency of Visits to CAM Practitioners: United States, 2007”. Although it was included in this study, many no longer consider chiropractic as an “Alternative Medicine” since the profession has become more accepted as a main stream form of healthcare.

The study focuses on the amount of out-of-pocket money spent by consumers on the non-medical forms of care they refer to as “CAM” for the year 2007. The study reports that in 2007 Americans spent $33.9 billion of their own money out of pocket on visits to CAM practitioners and purchases of CAM products. The largest portion of that amount, $22 billion, was spent on CAM products classes and materials. Another $11.9 billion was spent on practitioner visits which include all chiropractic care.

The study points out that in 2007, 38.1 million adults made an estimated 354.2 million visits to CAM practitioners. Of this number almost half were chiropractors accounting for about $3.9 billion out of pocket expenses. As a comparison the study noted that Americans spent $49.6 billion out of pocket for medical doctor visits.

The study results also noted that chiropractic was one of the most affordable types of CAM care as they stated, “Some of the highest per-person, out-of pocket costs are associated with visits to practitioners of naturopathy and chelation therapy, while one of the lowest per-person, out-of-pocket costs is associated with visits to practitioners of chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation therapy.”

In the total scheme of healthcare CAM is not a large portion of the expenses but is a large part of the number of people receiving care. The study notes that all of the CAM expenditures combined only amounts to 1.5% of the total health-care expenditures in the United States. However, as many people are willing to pay for these services CAM does total 11.2% of all out-of-pocket health-care expenditures in the US.

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