In Washington DC this week, President Obama has been having a summit on Health Policy related issues.
In regards to cost containment and effectiveness issues, I would like to highlight a series of studies performed in Germany on the cost effectiveness of acupuncture for a variety of common conditions.
We have to keep in mind, that in Germany, unlike the U.S., the government has a vested interest in keeping the population well because of the universality of their health coverage, unemployment benefits, and sick pay. But the WHO has determined a level of cost-effectiveness for all geographical areas in the world regardless of their particular health policies. The German series uses these preset values in evaluating acupuncture treatment.
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Quality of life and cost-effectiveness of acupuncture treatment in patients with osteoarthritis pain.
Eur J Health Econ. 2008 Aug;9(3):209-19.
“The degree of cost-effectiveness was influenced by gender, with female patients achieving a better cost-effectiveness ratio than men. In conclusion, acupuncture was a cost-effective treatment strategy in patients with chronic osteoarthritis pain.

Pragmatic randomized trial evaluating the clinical and economic effectiveness of acupuncture for chronic low back pain.
Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Sep 1;164(5):487-96.
“Acupuncture plus routine care was associated with marked clinical improvements in these patients and was relatively cost-effective.”

Cost-effectiveness of acupuncture treatment in patients with chronic neck pain.
Pain. 2006 Nov;125(1-2):107-13. Epub 2006 Jul 13.
“According to international cost-effectiveness threshold values, acupuncture is a cost-effective treatment strategy in patients with chronic neck pain.

Cost-effectiveness of acupuncture treatment in patients with headache.
Cephalalgia. 2008 Apr;28(4):334-45.
“According to international cost-effectiveness threshold values, acupuncture is a cost-effective treatment in patients with primary headache.”

Cost-effectiveness of acupuncture in women and men with allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled study in usual care.
Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Mar 1;169(5):562-71.
“Acupuncture, supplementary to routine care, was beneficial and, according to international benchmarks, cost-effective.

I think you get the idea.

We are grateful to the following team: Witt CM, Reinhold T, Jena S, Brinkhaus B, Willich SN at the Departments of Social Medicine, Epidemiology, and Health Economics at the Charité University Medical Center, Berlin, Germany for performing the above studies.