A Policy Statement from Northwestern Health Sciences University

In Minnesota and across the nation, an aging population, misuse of prescription medications, inadequate pain management and the rising incidence of chronic disease continue to drive the unsustainable cost of healthcare. In the United States, healthcare spending is approximately 18% of GDP – almost twice that of other high income countries. This is due, in large measure, to high physician salaries, prescription medication and administrative expenses. In spite of that rate of spending, our return on investment is poor, with Americans experiencing worse health outcomes than comparable countries. (1)

Rising insurance premiums, high annual deductibles and visit co-pays are also creating financial challenges for consumers. American families – and the employers that continue to provide them with health coverage – are facing average insurance premiums that have now topped over $20,000 in 2019, but with workers paying an increasing portion of that cost along with higher annual deductibles. (2) That cost-shifting and higher out-of-pocket consumer spending creates financial challenges often lead patients to avoid or delay the care they need. (3)

Beyond exorbitant costs, the policies that control healthcare access and how services get paid often dictate the care individuals receive. Alarmingly, these policies are not always aligned with the delivery of evidence based healthcare. This gap threatens the effectiveness and efficiency of the entire healthcare system.

As we consider these health and policy challenges, an opportunity exists to reexamine the role of complementary and integrative healthcare for improving whole person health, increasing access to evidence based therapies, and curbing uncontrolled healthcare costs.