Save Money With Alternative Health Treatments
Think you can't afford the luxury of an acupuncture or massage therapy appointment in this time of economic downturn? Think again! With more and more research showing the effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine, sticking with regular treatment could actually save you and your family money.
The United States is the world leader in soaring health care costs, but consistently ranks low for quality and effectiveness of traditional Western medical treatment.
According to a study by Harvard University, the out-of-pocket medical debt for those filing for bankruptcy is about $12,000, and 50% of all bankruptcy filings are partly a result of medical expenses. Sadly, 68% of those filing for bankruptcy have health insurance, but still cannot afford their out-of-pocket medical expenses. Over 1.5 million families have their homes foreclosed upon each year as a result of unaffordable medical costs, and a survey of consumers in Iowa showed that in order to cope with rising health care costs, 44% said they had to cut back on basic necessities such as food and heating.
Anecdotal evidence and small-scale research showing the effectiveness of alternative medical models such as Chinese medicine, massage therapy and bodywork, and chiropractic care encouraged the 1998 creation of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) by the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH). After years of numerous studies and trials, we now have evidenced-based results showing not only the effectiveness of these treatments, but the ability of these treatments to reduce health care costs.
A journal article by the Disease Control Priority Project (DCPP) that looked at ways to decrease health care costs showed that complementary medicine was 53-63% less expensive than conventional medicine in achieving equivalent results for conditions such as osteoarthritis, hypertension and peptic ulcers. Other studies reviewed by the DCPP showed acupuncture is 60% less costly for musculoskeletal conditions than the equivalent referral to a Western medicine practitioner, and chiropractic medicine costs 24% less than Western pain therapy yet yields better results.
Prescription drugs account for 49% of out-of-pocket medical expenses for consumers. Yet, according to the DCPP, homeopathic drugs and ayurvedic herbs with equivalent or increased effectiveness are up to 50% cheaper than conventional medicine.
Herbal medicine and supplement use has been shown to reverse certain conditions in the body over time, while their prescriptive drug counterparts simply continue to control symptoms. For example, while Americans spend nearly $3 billion a year on anti-depressive prescription drugs such as Prozac, these medications work by regulating the release and action of serotonin already available in the brain. In contrast, research shows that essential amino acids and proteins found in several foods, supplements, and herbal remedies actually increase the brain's ability to produce proper amounts of serotonin on its own.
So, when tightening up your household budget, remember that alternative medicine isn't just a treat. With consistent treatment you can improve your health and save some wear and tear on your wallet.