By Dana Ullman MPH
A 1996 study of 130,000 prescriptions confirmed the results of the 1991 French government report (see below) and suggested significant benefits and savings as a result of homeopathic treatment. This survey also noted that the number of paid sick leave days by patients under the care of homeopathic physicians were 3.5 times less (598 days/year) than patients under the care of general practitioners (2,017 days/year). These figures suggest further benefit and savings to the homeopathic approach to care.
Homeopathic medicines are reimbursable under the French health care system, in part because they cost considerably less than conventional drugs (on average, the cost of a homeopathic medicine is 7 French francs versus 23.00 French francs for conventional drugs). Although homeopathic medicines in France represent 5% of all medicines prescribed by physicians, they represent only 1.2% of all drug reimbursements due to their lower cost per prescription.
–Caisse Nationale de l’Assurance Maladie des Travailleurs Salaris, 1996.
A 1991 French Government Report showed a significantly reduced cost from homeopathic care versus conventional medical care. The totality of costs associated with homeopathic care per physicians was approximately one-half of the totality of care provided by conventional primary care physicians. However, because homeopathic physicians, on average, saw significantly fewer patients, the overall cost per patient under homeopathic care was still a significant 15% less. It is also interesting to note that these savings appear to increase the longer a physician has been using homeopathy.
–French Government Report: Social Security Statistics, CNAM (National Inter-Regulations System) 61, January, 1991.
This study in Seattle, Washington, compared the utilization and cost of homeopathic, naturopathic, and acupuncture services, and it found that homeopathic care was the least costly and that patient visits to homeopaths were less than to other alternative care professionals (this study, however, did not concurrently compare or evaluate patient visits or costs for conventional medical care)
–Jacobs J, Smith N. Charges, utilization, and practice patterns from a pilot insurance program covering alternative medical services. American Public Health Association Conference, New York City, November 18-21, 1996.
–Jonas WB, Jacobs J, Healing with Homeopathy . New York: Warner, 1996.
The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital conducted an audit of a sample of their patients during a three-week period. A total of 541 questionnaires were handed out, 506 returned, and 499 were analyzed. This survey found that 63% of patients had their complaint for more than five years. Of the patients who were on conventional medications when they initially sought homeopathic care, 29% had stopped and an additional 32% had decreased their medication, while only 4% increased their medication. Sixty-two percent indicated that their main complaint had moderately or very much improved compared to their status before treatment at the homeopathic hospital.
This study, like others before it (Jonas and Jacobs, 1996), indicate that the vast majority of complaints seen by homeopaths are for chronic, long-term illness. Because these studies showed significant improvement in patient health and in reduction of medication, this data is of special interest to managed care companies.
–Sharples F, van Haselen, R, Patients perspective on using a complementary medicine approach to their health: a survey at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital NHS Trust (no date, but first made available in 1998).
Additional evidence of good results of successful and potentially cost-effective treatment with homeopathic medicines was shown by the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital, which conducted an audit of 100 consecutive patients. They found that 81% had a condition for which conventional medical treatment was not effective and for which 47% had seen a specialist. After one year, 60% experienced significant improvement in the condition about which they were most concerned, 49% had a sustained improvement in their quality of life, and 37% managed a sustained reduction in their conventional medications.
–Homoeopathy: The Guide (CDRom), HomInform (June 1, 1997).
One pilot study in Great Britain suggested that doctors practicing homeopathic medicine issued fewer prescriptions and at a lower cost than their conventional medical colleagues (Swayne, 1992), while another pilot study in Germany evaluated a single homeopathic dentist’s practice and suggested that it was more cost-effective than conventional dental care (Fedlhaus, 1993).
One other example of a cost benefit to homeopathic care was witnessed in a small study of the homeopathic treatment for infertility (Gerhard et al., 1991). This study showed that homeopathic care for infertility was 30 times less expensive per successful delivery than the match comparison group given conventional care.
–Swayne J, The cost and effectiveness of homeopathy.
British Homoeopathic Journal July 1992;81,3:148-150.
–Feldhaus H-W. Cost-effectiveness of homeopathic treatment in a dental practice. British Homoeopathic Journal . January, 1993;82,1:22-28.
–Gerhard I, Reimers G, Keller C, et al., “Weibliche fertiltitas- storungen. Vergleich homoopathischer einzelmittel–mit konventio- neller hormontherapie.” Therapeutikon . 1991;7:309-315.