Close to 83 million U.S. adults spent $33.9 billion out of pocket on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in 2007, according to a new National Center for Health Statistics survey. This is 11.2% of total out-of-pocket expen ditures on health care. About $22.0 billion of this was spent on self-care costs that did not require a visit to a health care practitioner (e.g., non-vitamin supplements like fish oil or echinacea); this is equivalent to one-third of total out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs. In the 10 years since the last CAM survey was conducted, it appears that visits to CAM practitioners have declined while spending on self-care has increased greatly.
Homeopathy—which includes self-care as well as visits to practitioners—accounted for $3.1 billion or a little more than 9% of the total spent on CAM. Of this, $2.9 billion was spent on homeopathic self-care, and $167 million was spent on visits to homeopathic practitioners.
—Nahin RL, et al. Costs of Complementary and
Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Frequency of Visits to
CAM Practitioners: United States, 2007.
National health statistics reports; no 18. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2009