CAM Cost EffectivenessChiropractic

Reported cost-savings with CAM-oriented primary care

The costs and clinical utilization data between CAM and conventional medical clinics were compared for an integrative medicine independent physician association (IPA) whose primary care physicians (PCPs) were exclusively doctors of chiropractic.

Over 7 years, patients visiting chiropractors and other CAM-oriented primary care doctors had 60% fewer hospitalizations, 62% less outpatient surgery, and 85% lower pharmaceutical costs compared with total network HMO (health maintenance organization) utilization rates and costs.

Questions I’d like answered about this report.

  • Were the patient populations cared for by CAM and conventional healthcare providers of equal health, age, and social, economic, and educational background?
  • Was the distribution of disease the same between the two groups?
  • What procedures were in place to track patients’ use of CAM and conventional care?
  • Does lack of referrals to conventional care practitioners necessarily mean that referrals were not needed?
  • How do we know that lower drug cost means drugs could not have benefited these patient as much or more than the treatment they received?

The lead author is Dr. Richard Sarnat who is co-founder of Alternative Medicine, Inc. (AMI) — an Illinois-based organization founded in 1997 with the hope of transforming America’s health care model from one based on treating illness to one that focuses on wellness and disease prevention. The stated idea is to integrate alternative medicine with mainstream allopathic medicine to produce a health care model that utilizes the best each system has to offer.

7/12/07 21:27 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.