A study conducted in 2007 showed that Americans spend 3 billion dollars on homeopathy per year. This accounts for about 8.7% of spending on alternative medicine in the US. US spends about 34 billion dollars per year on alternative medicines. 43% are spent on vitamins, herbs and natural occuring products. 35% are spent on alternative medicine practioner costs. 12% is spent on Yoga, Tai chi, qigong classes, massage and chiropractic.
In 1997, another government survey showed that 27 billion dollars per year was being spent on alternative medicine. In 10 years, the amount of spending by the US consumer on alternative medicines has increased by 7 billion dollars. Government officials expect the purchase of alternative medicines to continue to rise in the next several years.
The total cost of medical care in the US is 2.2 trillion dollars. Insurance covers most of the cost of health care. However, Americans spend 48 billion dollars purchasing prescription drugs per year and about 49 billion dollars in doctor visits that insurance does not cover. Another large cost for the uninsured or under insured is conventional care such as cancer treatments, surguries and so forth. 171 billion dollars were spent on this type of care.
Much of this data was gathered before the recession of the US. Many people are assuming alternative medicine popularity is growing due to loss of insurance coverage by many Americans. Homeopathy and vitamins can be purchased inexpensively and without a prescription most of the time. Prescription drugs require a doctor visit and may not be affordable to many uninsured patients. In fact, most medicines are except from FDA regulation all together. Homeopathy products are loosely regulated. The FDA assumes homeopathy to be harmless since the medicines are too dilute to cause any harm.
More research needs to be done on alternative therapies to decide which ones are effective. However, many alternative therapies such as homeopathy require special trials since most of the remedies are individualized. Acupuncture is also another alternative therapy where trials are difficult to do. Research does exist in other countries for alternative medicine. Extensive research has been done on homeopathy in the UK and the rest of Europe. India also is doing extensive research on homeopathy. US does not really need to start from scratch on alternative medicine research. US can simply look at some of the promising alternative medicine trials and try to replicate those in a large scale.
Alternative medicines make up a small portion of Americas health care costs. Alternative medicines cost make up about 1.5% of the total health care cost in the US. Do you see even more American consumers using alternative type medicines such as homeopathy in the future Do you think the amount of prescription drugs will decrease in the future? How large a market share can homeopathic medicine have in the US?
Center For Disease Control and Prevention