Containing Healthcare Costs with Integrative Medicine

For anyone looking to understand how integrative medicine can help stem the tide of rising healthcare costs, the “Health and Medical Economics: Applications to Integrative Medicine” white paper, published in 2009, offers insight into both clinical care and overall cost effectiveness as well as societal loss when populations require nursing care and/or drug treatment intervention. This 97-page white paper – commissioned for the IOM Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public – takes into consideration cost-benefit analyses of many aspects of health and medical care. Definitions of ‘direct vs indirect cost’ are explained in table 2, page 13. This explains why one must not only look at the direct cost of specific medical care for a disease but also the indirect cost to the patient and society. As the paper notes “Chronic conditions are on the rise across all age groups, and it is expected that in the near future, conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer will tax employers more heavily as they provide medical benefits for employees and absorb the costs of absence, short term disability (STD) and long term disability (LTD) costs (Thorpe, 2006).” The objective of integrative medicine is to broaden the array of evidence-based interventions that are selectively available through an integrated, collaborative network of providers while producing better patient outcomes, reducing disability, time loss and medication costs.