A new study declares that Americans feel it’s worth spending out-of-pocket dollars for alternative health care . Will this personally-subsidized, wellness-trend continue?
Americans are willing to spend their hard-earned dollars on health care products that are not necessarily prescribed by their physicians. These supplements include probiotics, fish oil, digestive enzymes, and other popular immune-boosting products. In fact, more personal money is spent on natural supplementation and alternative health treatment than visits to the doctor.
In 2012, data was collected by the National Health Interview Survey. The results were recently published depicting various spending habits of Americans in regards to health care. The National Center for Health Statistics show that $54 billion (out-of-pocket) was spent that year on prescription drugs. Incredibly, almost $13 billion was spent (also out-of-pocket) on health supplements.
Research Also Adds…
In addition to supplements, it was discovered that Americans are willing to pay for alternative health treatment. One in five persons (adults and children) spent money on various types of treatments. These preventative and/or healing applications are: massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, hypnosis, and homeopathy.
Health insurances most often doesn’t cover these costs, but it appears we are willing to pay, regardless. The 2012 survey noted that over $30 billion was spent on alternative health care overall (out-of-pocket). That sounds like an exorbitant amount, but put into perspective… That year, over $300 billion was spent out-of-pocket for all forms of health care.
Those opposed to alternative health care treatment and supplements will use FDA stipulations as an argument. It is true that certain herbal and dietary supplements can be sold without FDA approval. This is one reason why some western-medicine general practitioners may naysay their use.
Former director of Dietary Supplement Programs at the FDA, Daniel Fabricant, shed some light on this issue. He says doctors receive less than 20 hours of nutritional training, on average. Additionally, they spend an average of seven minutes per patient and may see 40 in one day. It’s tough to counsel someone on their health and wellness when their observations and information are limited.
As far as the FDA debates, the truth is that supplements still require Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). They also must comply with “adverse effect” reports and other required data collection. Realistically, there aren’t “deadly” products sold without FDA approval and there are still “harmful” products sold with its blessing.
The Positive Future…
From figures derived from the study, individuals spent an average of $510 on alternative health care for that particular year. Research points to far greater amounts of dollars spent since then. Fabricant believes Americans are dissatisfied with the care they receive that’s covered by insurance. He believes people are seeking ways to stay healthy on their own—even if it costs more.
It’s certainly a positive step towards health and longevity when Americans explore, experiment, and then accept alternatives to good health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, in order to indulge, it’s costing us above and beyond our insurance premiums, deductibles, and allowances. Hopefully in the near future, the cost of good health will cost less.
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