A survey of patients' out-of-pocket payments for complementary and alternative medicine therapies

Author: Bridevaux IP
HSR&D VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA, USA. ipb@u.washington.edu
Conference/Journal: Complement Ther Med
Date published: 2004
Other: Volume ID: 12 , Issue ID: 1 , Pages: 48-50 , Word Count: 139

OBJECTIVE: Investigate the out-of-pocket payments for complementary and alternative therapies. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study using the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. SETTING: Fourteen thousand and twenty-six US adults aged > or =25 years from 10,597 answering households. Respondents to the survey were only included in this analysis if they used a single CAM therapy which was not covered by insurance. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Reported out-of-pocket payments. RESULTS: Out of 836 users of alternative therapies, 577 used only a single therapy. Massage therapy (23.7%), spiritual healing (16.6%) and herbal therapy (14.7%) were the most frequently single used therapies. The out-of-pocket payments per visit for providers was on average $49 for nutritional advice, $44 for acupuncture, $33 for massage, $23 for herbal therapies, and $9 for spiritual healing. CONCLUSIONS: These are the first estimates of the out-of-pocket payments for specific complementary and alternative therapies. They can help understand the importance people place on these therapies.