In 2007, Americans spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket for complementary medicine. The $33.9 billion accounted for approximately one and one-half percent of total healthcare expenditures, and more than 11 percent of total out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures. Much of total out-of-pocket spending was self-care, that is, products, classes, and materials not specifically recommended by a healthcare provider.
In 2010, a survey was conducted by the NCCIH (then known as, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), in partnership with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
Talk specifically about your own healthcare needs. For example, if you are taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, and you are considering complementary healthcare practices, ask whether there might be harmful interactions between the medications and the complementary practices.
When you tell your medical doctors or other healthcare providers about your use of complementary health practices, you can more easily stay in control of your own health. When medical doctors or other healthcare providers are aware of which complementary health practices you are using or considering, they can help you to make wise choices.
Four Tips to Start the Conversation
In advance of your visit to your medical doctor or other healthcare provider, make a list of the complementary health practices you use.Remember to include over-the-counter and prescription medicines, as well as dietary and herbal supplements. When you are filling-out a patient history form during your visit, you can refer to your list.
Take your list with you into the medical examining room, so that you can refer to it, as you talk with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider. Some complementary health approaches can have an effect on conventional medicine, so your provider needs to know.
If you are considering a complementary health practice, always ask questions. Ask your provider about its safety, effectiveness, and possible interactions with prescription and nonprescription medicines.
Don’t wait for your medical doctor or other provider to ask about any complementary health practice that you are using or considering. Start the conversation.
Order or Download Your Free Patient Packet
As part of the Time to Talk campaign, NCCIH has developed a Free Patient Packet of helpful materials, to help you begin a conversation with your medical doctors or other healthcare providers. Order your packet online. Or, call: 1-888-644-6226.
Each packet contains the following information:
Backgrounder: Resources from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
TELL tip sheet: Tips for talking with healthcare providers
Patient Wallet Card: Card to help you to keep track of your medications, including dietary supplements and other complementary health products. You can take this card with you to your visits with your healthcare providers.
Get the Facts: Facts you should know if you are considering complementary medicine
Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.