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Americans Spending on Alternative Medicine

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced that Americans spent $33.9 billion on complementary and alternative medicines in 2007. These results come from a study which surveyed more than 70,000 across America and inquired into 36 forms of alternative medicine. These findings suggest that Americans spend more than 10% of their out-of-pocket health care dollars on alternative medicines and services which include chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists and herbal remedies.

The usefulness and effectiveness of these alternative medicines isn’t always evident. Some of them are promising, but others could be more harmful than helpful to your health. About half of the people who used alternative medicine do so because they cannot afford conventional care. This includes a significant amount of senior citizens who chose to turn to alternative medicine once they hit the Medicare gap and can no longer afford conventional alternatives. One report found that over one-third of adults use some form of alternative medicine.

The main reason behind why people tried alternative therapies like chiropractic care and massages was for pain. The most popular supplements used were glucosamine (which is supposed to reduce joint pain) and fish oil (which is supposed to reduce the risk of heart disease).

Although not all alternative medicine is covered by health insurance, it was found that about 43 percent of alternative medicine in 2007 was paid for by private insurance and about 31 percent was paid for by public insurance. The remainder was paid by the patients.


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