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Americans Spent $33.9 Billion Out-of-Pocket on Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Date:7/30/2009

BETHESDA, Md., July 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Americans spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) over the previous 12 months, according to a 2007 government survey(1). CAM is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products such as herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic, and acupuncture that are not generally considered to be part of conventional medicine. CAM accounts for approximately 1.5 percent of total health care expenditures ($2.2 trillion(2)) and 11.2 percent of total out-of-pocket expenditures (conventional out-of-pocket: $286.6 billion(2) and CAM out-of-pocket: $33.9 billion(1)) on health care in the United States.

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)(3). The CAM component of the NHIS was developed by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data provide estimates of the cost of CAM use, the frequency of visits made to CAM practitioners, and frequency of purchases of self-care CAM therapies.

"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
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SOURCE National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health
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