Dr. Robert Herron, an independent researcher, and director of the Center for Health Systems Analysis in Quebec, Canada, retrospectively assessed government payments to physicians for treating the TM and no-treatment (NT) groups.
First, the details.
Among people in Quebec, the highest-spending 10% of 1418 Quebec health insurance enrollees who practiced the TM technique were compared with the highest 10% of 1418 people who were randomly selected from enrollees of the same age, sex, and region.
TM participants had chosen to begin the technique prior to choosing to enter the study.
The Quebec government health insurance agency provided the total physician payments for each participant from 1981 to 1994.
Other medical expense data for individuals were unavailable.
Data were adjusted for medical cost inflation.
And, the results.
Before starting meditation, the yearly rate of increase in payments to physicians between groups was not significantly different.
After commencing meditation, the TM group’s mean payments significantly declined $45 annually, whereas the NT comparison group’s payments exhibited nonsignificant changes.
After 1 year, the TM group decreased 11%, and after 5 years their cumulative reduction was a significant 28%.
The bottom line?
Dr. Herron concluded, “The results suggest the intervention may be an effective method for reducing physician costs.”
He also points to earlier studies that came to similar conclusions, and recommends more rigorously designed studies in the future.
Cost effectiveness is important, but ultimately it will be important to show that health status doesn’t suffer.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.