As I am taking this Naturopathy class I am privileged to be exposed to all different kinds of reading and lectures pertaining to healthcare. One of this weeks lectures is followed below. It raises the question of the accountability of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). The lecture is based on a document produced by the Milbank Foundation in 1998 called Enhancing the Accountability of Alternative Medicine.
The whole document can be viewed at: www.milbank.org/mraltmed.html
Here is the lecture:
(Source: Week 2 Lecture, Accountability of Alternative Medicine. Everglades University, HSC4126G4-103272006 Naturopathy)
Alternative medicines such as herbal medicine and homeopathy have both benefits and risks, especially since they are often self-prescribed. Although the therapies included in the broad classification are for the most part safe enough for self-prescription, the risk for serious complications from misuse of CAM are on the rise as it is being more widely used.
One study published in 1993 estimated that one third to one half of the U.S population used CAM. This survey did, however, include exercise and prayer, so the results may be considered somewhat over inclusive.
People using CAM use it mostly for troubling but not life threatening complaints. Musculoskeletal pain is one of the main ailments for which CAM is employed in the U.S..
CAM services are more widely accepted in Britain, Canada, France, Norway, and Japan. Homeopathy is the most popular form of CAM in France and Norway.
Pharmaceutical companies are unlikely to invest the millions of dollars required to test them for FDA approval because herbs cannot be patented.
People who use CAM are more highly educated than users of conventional care. Although some insurance companies are beginning to cover CAM , users are mostly paying out of pocket for these services.
Most CAM treatments are not reimbursed by insurance or health plans. Chiropractic is the main exception, although it is not reimbursed on the same level as conventional medicine.
Naturopathic care is covered by approximately 100 insurance companies in the United States, but most of these companies are concentrated in Alaska, Connecticut, and Washington State.(1) Acupuncture, massage therapy, and other CAM services are covered by many insurers. (2) Coverage is most likely if the patient has a physician’s prescription for that therapy.
In the state of Washington, a mandate was passed to force insurance companies to cover CAM services as they do conventional medicine. This law was overturned by the healthcare organizations
Needless to say, this is an uphill battle to gain a mainstream acceptance of complementary and alternative modalities to healthcare. We as consumers must continue to push for the wide acceptance of scientifically proven complementary healthcare measures in order to bring sanity back to a monopolized, overpriced, and broken healthcare system. Need proof. The American health-care system is ranked 37th by the World Health organization.(3)
(1) Naturopathy—Health Insurance for N.D. Care. Web site: http://homearts.com/hl/ articles/68natu91.htm
(2) N.G. Moore. A review of reimbursement policies for alternative and complementary therapies Altern Ther Health Med 1997. 3: 26-29. , 91–92 (PubMed)
(3)World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/en/)
Source: Enhancing the accountability of Alternative Medicine, The Millbank Memorial Fund 1998 http://www.milbank.org/mraltmed.html