Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) healthcare providers are waiting to see whether federal lawmakers will pass an amendment that allows for more insurance coverage of their therapies and services. As the larger healthcare debate in Washington wages on, senators such as Tom Harkin of Iowa and Dennis Kucinich of Ohio are campaigning for licensed integrative practitioners to be included as mainstream caregivers and afforded the same insurance coverage under the new reformed healthcare system.
“It’s time to end the discrimination against alternative healthcare practices,’’ Harkin said at a congressional hearing. Advocates argue that the alternative treatments can be less expensive than conventional therapies or drugs. But critics maintain that if the alternative treatments were truly effective, they would already have been adopted by the mainstream medical community. The alternative medicine amendment, which is cosponsored by Harkin, has been adopted by a Senate committee. The committee will have control over what portions of the amendment make it into the final healthcare reform bill.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) released a report in August 2009 that concluded 38% of Americans had used some form of integrative medicine over a 12-month period in 2006 and 2007. That study also concluded that the CAM market has grown to nearly $34 billion in the U.S. Nutrition Business Journal estimates that there are more than 1.3 billion integrative medicine healthcare practitioners operating in the U.S.
NBJ offers a historical analysis of the U.S. integrative medicine market, including supplement sales, therapy revenues and a population breakdown by healthcare practitioner type in the 2009 Integrative Medicine Report.