34 Billion American Dollars

A 2007 survey on the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) over a 12 month period showed American spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket on products and services. CAM encompasses the array of medical and health care systems, practices and products including herbal supplements, meditation, yoga, chiropractic, massage and acupuncture that are not part of conventional allopathic medicine. 38 percent of U.S. adults treat existing conditions and diseases or maintain overall health and wellness with CAM.

From the study:

To put these figures in context, 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 and lead author of the cost of complementary and alternative medicine analysis. “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.”

Media note: For the full report and downloadable graphics visit—nccam.nih.gov/news/camstats/costs/.

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