The acupuncture petition must hit its goal of 25,000 signatures by the Chinese New Year. If the goal is not reached by the Year of the Snake, February 10th, the petition dies and President Obama will not act on it. Currently, the Social Security Act recognises many types of healthcare practitioners including dieticians, nurse practitioners and midwives, social workers and physician assistants. However, licensed acupuncturists are not recognized as healthcare providers.
The goal of the petition is to recognise acupuncture as a profession and to have it included in the Medicare system. The petition cites the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture. The petition states that patients receiving acupuncture recover more quickly and less medication is required to achieve recovery.
At the moment, there are approximately 12,500 signatures on the petition with another 12,500 to go. Showing the cost-effectiveness side of this equation may help promote the popularity of this process. A recent study finds that acupuncture is cost-effective for the treatment of chronic pain. Researchers investigated the economic value of acupuncture for the treatment of lower back pain, neck pain, dysmenorrhea, migraines, arthritis and headaches. They discovered that, “Acupuncture appears to be a cost-effective intervention for some chronic pain conditions.” In another recent study, acupuncture was proven more cost-effective for the treatment of herpes zoster, shingles, than pharmaceutical drugs. Although acupuncture demonstrated equal clinical efficaciousness, the financials show that acupuncture costs significantly less money than the drug therapy.
Another recent study concluded that acupuncture reduces health care expenses when used for the treatment of lower back pain. Researchers in Calgary, Alberta discovered that patients receiving acupuncture for the treatment of lower back pain have a 49% reduction of doctor visits in the following year. In the same study, patients who did not receive acupuncture had only a 2% drop in doctor visits in the following year. The total cost of medical services, including acupuncture, dropped 37% for the patients receiving acupuncture care. Those patients who did not receive acupuncture but received only care by a doctor had only a 1% drop in medical expenses for the treatment of their back pain conditions.
The cost-benefit analysis looks good for the acupuncture petition hopefuls. However, can the numbers add up? It’s up to you. Visit the White House petition page and sign the petition online if you think acupuncture should make it into the Medicare system. The following link takes you to the official White House petition page: Acupuncture Petition.
Complementary Therapies in Medicine. Volume 20, Issue 5 , Pages 364-374, October 2012. Costs and consequences of acupuncture as a treatment for chronic pain: A systematic review of economic evaluations conducted alongside randomised controlled trials. E.M.M. Ambrosio, K. Bloor, H. MacPherson. Department of Health Sciences, University of York, UK. published online 08 June 2012.
Journal of Chinese Medicine. 1-2012. Economic Evaluation of Treating Herpes Zoster with Various Methods of Acupuncture and Moxibustion.
Deutsche Zeitschrift für Akupunktur. Volume 55, Issue 3, 2012, Pages 25–26. Reduced health resource use after acupuncture for low-back pain. S Moritza, MF Liub, B Rickhia, b, c, TJ Xua, P Paccagnana, H Quand.