Alternative medicine has been around for centuries. In its early years, alternative medicine was limited to snake oil peddlers and gullible people. Even after alternative medicine demonstrated its ability to heal ailments, it was unable to break into the mainstream medical community. Over time, however, alternative medicine has made great strides in being accepted in the medical community.
The FDA has been instrumental in validating the claims made by the alternative medicine industry. An example of this is the creation of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) by Congress as part of the National Institutes of Health. The budget in 1992 was $2 million, but had increased to $114 million in 2003. Clearly, alternative medicine has arrived.
Consumers are following the FDA’s suit by choosing alternative medicine treatments. In fact, consumers are spending just about the same amount on alternative treatments as they are on conventional treatments. In 2007, Americans made approximately 600 million visits to alternative health care providers. Almost half of those visits were to chiropractors and massage therapists.
Shift of responsibility from doctor to patient
Alternative medicine is typically sought out by the patient. The patient takes on the responsibility of researching the alternative treatment methods prior to discussing them with their doctor. Studies have shown that even in the instances where the physician was skeptical about the treatment, such as with cancer patients, the patient will decide to try it anyway.
Choosing Safe and Effective Alternative Therapies
It is recommended that you do your homework before choosing an alternative therapy treatment. You want to be sure that the treatment is effective and accepted by the medical community. With the advent of the internet, you can access case studies from the FDA and the American Medical Association which will provide an unbiased opinion.
For more than 50 years, the AMA was unwilling to endorse chiropractic medicine. Today, the AMA policy explicitly states that it is ethical for doctors to refer patients to chiropractors and for physicians to develop professional associations with doctors of chiropractic medicine. Because of the mainstream acceptance, the chiropractic field has grown substantially. Today, chiropractors are the third largest group of health care providers, after physicians and dentists.
Insurance Coverage for Alternative Medicine
Chiropractic treatment is, in general, a covered service on most health plans. Just as with other medical providers, chiropractors contract with networks of managed care and accept the fee schedule and treatment guidelines. The patient then pays a co-payment at each visit, or until the annual deductible is met.