The Price of Complementary Health Approaches

Complementary health approaches garnered $30.2 billion in American spending

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Anyssa Garza, PharmD

(RxWiki News) Americans spent $30.2 billion on complementary health approaches in a year, according to a recent analysis.

That analysis was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and recently published in National Health Statistics Reports.

The analysis was based on data provided by the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Previous reports did not provide data on spending on complementary health approaches in children until now. The analysis looked at nearly 45,000 people and out-of-pocket spending. 

Complementary health approaches include natural product supplements, massage, meditation, yoga and chiropractic services. 

The recent analysis showed the following:

  • Around 59 million Americans spent money on at least one complementary health approach and paid an average out-of-pocket amount of $510.
  • Adults spent $28.3 billion and child spending came in at $1.9 billion, which totals $30.2 billion.
  • Complementary health approaches represented 9.2 percent of all out-of-pocket expenses on health care.
  • Americans spent $12.8 billion on natural product supplements (about 24 percent of what was spent on prescription drugs). The average cost per year was $368. 
  • Americans spent $14.7 billion on visits to complementary practitioners (about 30 percent of what was spent on visits to a physician). The average cost per year was $433. 
  • Around $2.7 billion was spent on self-care approaches, which may include books or CDs, as a self-managed approach. 

The analysis also showed the higher the income, the more individuals spent on complementary approaches. 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 23, 2016
Last Updated:
June 27, 2016