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CIGNA offering alternative medicine discounts

CIGNA HealthCare is rolling out a program that offers discounts on complementary and alternative medicine for its 14 million customers in all 50 states.

CIGNA HealthCare Healthy Rewards offers a network of 15,000 credentialed practitioners, including chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists. In addition, customers can log on to the CIGNA Web site to purchase discounted health and wellness products, including homeopathic remedies, sports nutrition products, books, and videos. Patients do not need referrals; rather, they pay providers directly.

The number of Americans using an alternative therapy increased from about 33 percent in 1990 to more than 42 percent in 1997, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), an office of the National Institutes of Health. Commonly used alternative therapies include herbal medicine, massage, megavitamins, self-help groups, folk remedies, energy healing, and homeopathy. In addition, Americans spent more than $27 billion on these therapies in 1997, exceeding out-of-pocket spending for all U.S. hospitalizations, according to the NCCAM.

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