Use of CAM in the United States: Cost Data

In the 2007 national health interview survey (NHIS), approximately 38% of adults reported using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the previous 12 months. The CAM component of the NHIS, developed by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the National Center for Health Statistics, also collected data about CAM costs, including cost of CAM use, frequency of visits made to CAM practitioners, and frequency of purchases of self-care CAM therapies.

According to the 2007 NHIS survey, 83 million U.S. adults spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket on visits to CAM practitioners and on purchases of CAM products, classes, and materials (see Figures 1-3).

At $33.9 billion, CAM accounts for approximately 1.5% of total health care expenditures and 11.2% of total out-of-pocket expenditures on health care in the United States. 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 ($47.6 billion), 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 ($49.6 billion).

Source: 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.