by Dr. Jack Schaefer DACM
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can save you money. A common misconception in the world of health care is that alternative medicine is expensive when compared to modern western medicine. Truth be told, it is actually much cheaper than conventional western medicine. This is true in two different ways. First, the actual cost of treatment with acupuncture and Chinese medicine is significantly less than modern medicine. Second, the preventative aspect of acupuncture and Chinese medicine is also much cheaper than the actual of the treatment of a problem when it does arise.
Several studies have actually been done, not just about how well acupuncture can work in treatment of disease, but also as to how much money can be saved by using it. A great example of this was a study published in Acta Anethesiol Scand in 1992. The study showed that of 29 patients awaiting surgeries 7 were able to cancel their surgery resulting in a cost savings of $9000 per patient.
Another study published in Neurology in 1994 showed that post stroke patients who used acupuncture were able to cut their hospital stay from 161 days to 88 days saving $26,000 per patient.
Another example of savings was published in the Journal Spine (5:279-291) in 1980. The study showed that 18 of 29 people treated with acupuncture for low back pain went back to work while only 4 of 27 people treated with standard therapy were able to return to work. Getting people back to work meant money savings for the companies, and less debt for the out of work patients.
Consider that there is a direct cost savings when seeking acupuncture treatment. A visit to a conventional doctor may run as high as $265 and visit to a specialist may run as high as $325. Compare that to a visit to an acupuncturist which may only cost $60-$70 on average. That is a huge cost savings. In fact, you can get about 5 visits to an acupuncturist for the cost of one visit to a specialist!
The second big way that acupuncture saves money when compared to western medicine is in the arena of preventive medicine. Western medicine's focus is mainly on fixing things that are broken and dysfunctional. So, very little attention is paid to staying healthy and preventing disease beyond - lose weight, eat right, and take medications for the "pre-" problems. (pre-diabetes, pre-hypertension, etc.) Medications have become the new popular way of doing preventive medicine in the traditional western medical world. If you look like you might get diabetes, or hypertension etc. you might be medicated with low doses of the same meds that they use to treat the problem when it is full blown all under the guise of preventive medicine.
To and acupuncturist preventative medicine is a much more important topic. At its highest level Chinese medicine is used in the prevention of disease. There is an old saying in China that the best doctors catch the disease before it has manifested and the lowest level doctor only treats the disease once it has happened. An acupuncturist will help you figure out where your body is getting out of balance and adjust it before the imbalance gets too big. Once the imbalance is big, or gone on for a long time, then diseases and illness start. This prevention and balance restoration is done by acupuncture, custom herbal formula prescription, custom diet prescription, exercise prescription, and more. The beauty of this idea is that herbs, acupuncture, exercise, and food are much cheaper than treating cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. In addition, there are no side effects!
The bottom line is that the use of acupuncture and Chinese medicine is much cheaper than modern western medicine. Second you are able to stay healthy longer and more consistently, thus not having to go through medical treatments for diseases. Finally, the treatments are pretty much side-effect free. You have nothing to lose!