CAM PoliticsChinese MedicineNaturopathyOsteopathic

Why does the Australian government support CAM?

Dr. Hans Baer from the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia thinks he knows.

It might be a window on what would occur with government funded universal healthcare in the US.

To address rising health costs, the Australian government has relied on several strategies.

  • Covert rationing that entails limiting public health funds for particular patients or services.
  • Allocation of patients awaiting surgery to a priority level.
  • Increased co-payments for physician visits necessitated by practices such as physicians refusing to bulk bill.
  • Establishment of an independent auditor for the private health insurance industry.

What’s this got to do with CAM?
The government supports complementary medicine in the form of training programs in chiropractic, osteopathy, Chinese medicine, and naturopathy in public tertiary institutions and partnerships between private complementary colleges and public universities.

The bottom line?
Dr. Baer says, “Compared with biomedical education with its need for hospitals and sophisticated technology, complementary training programs are inexpensive. Furthermore, complementary services are generally not covered by Medicare but must be paid for either out of pocket or by a private health plan.”

If he’s correct, politics and economics rather than science are driving Australia’s support for CAM.

10/1/07 19:23 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.