Back to Annual Meeting Page
American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3077.0: Monday, December 12, 2005 - 10:30 AM

Abstract #98631

Price Elasticities for three types of Complementary Health Care Services: Experiences in a Boston Public Health Clinic

Elizabeth Sommers, MPH, LicAc, Research, Pathways to Wellness, 142 Berkeley St. - 2nd floor, Boston, MA 02116, 617 859 3036 ext. 24, bsommers@pathwaysboston.org and Kristen Porter, LicAc, AIDS CARE, 142 Berkeley St. - 2nd floor, Boston, MA 02116.

Issue: Although several studies about economic considerations of CAM care have described total expenditures or third party coverage, no investigators have addressed more complex issues such as price elasticity. Background: Price elasticity indicates the responsiveness of demand for health care to changes in price. Values are generally less than or equal to 0, indicating an inverse relation of utilization to price. In health care demand studies, price elasticities have been calculated for all types of care including outpatient ambulatory services, hospital care, urgent care services, and elective procedures. Price elasticities for emergency procedures or other necessary medical interventions are generally smaller than those for elective care. Methods: Utilization patterns were monitored before and after a price increase of $5; fees for each service (acupuncture, Chinese herbal treatment, and shiatsu) were uniformly priced at $30 and were raised to $35. Numbers of each type of treatment received were recorded for the month and quarter before the price increase, and for the month and quarter following the price increase. Results: The clinic population consisted of 111 individuals who were receiving acupuncture, 76 individuals who used Chinese herbal consultations, and 77 clients using shiatsu services. Elasticity values were calculated to be 0.35 (acupuncture), -1.31 (herbal treatment), and 2.34 (shiatsu). This range indicates varying levels of responsiveness that may be related to clients' perceived valuation of the utility of treatment, health status, or other factors. Recommendations: Economics of CAM treatment can provide insight into consumer choice. Future research is needed to explore these issues.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Alternative Medicine/Therapies, Economic Analysis

Related Web page: www.pathwaysboston.org

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

Evidence Based Alternative and Complementary Health Practices and Policies

The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA