The Impact of the Transcendental Meditation® Program on Government Payments to Physicians in Quebec: An Update
American Journal of Health Promotion, Vol. 14, No. 5, pp. 284-291, 2000.
Robert E. Herron* and Stephen L. Hillis**
* Department of Management and Public Administration, Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, IA 52557
** Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
This study expands upon a previous study conducted by the authors to analyze whether practice of the Transcendental Meditation® (TM®) technique affected government payments to physicians in Quebec, Canada. The present study includes data on an additional 741 practitioners of the TM® technique (for a total of 1418 TM® subjects) and a comparison subject for each TM® practitioner, and extends the time period three additional years. This retrospective, longitudinal study compared data on government payments to physicians for treating 1418 health insurance enrollees in Quebec who practiced TM® and 1418 comparison subjects who did not practice TM®. Data for pre-intervention and post-intervention periods over a time period of 14 years was analyzed. The TM® subjects had practiced TM® for an average of 6.7 years and participated in the study by filling out a questionnaire. They were considered a convenience sample since they were self-selected, the number of questionnaires distributed was not known, and the number of possible respondents was not known. The comparison group for this study was randomly selected by the Quebec health insurance agency, matching each TM® subject with a comparison subject having the same age, gender, and region in which they lived. The total number of study subjects was 2836, including 1408 men and 1428 women, with an average age of 38 years. The subjects' annual physician expenses for the years 1981-1994 were adjusted for inflation and analyzed in constant 1992 Canadian dollars. For the preintervention period (before subjects started the TM® technique), the yearly rate of increase in payments to physicians was not significantly different between the TM® and comparison groups. For the post-intervention period (after the subjects started TM®), the yearly payments to physicians for the comparison group increased to levels that were higher than the preintervention levels for this group, increasing up to 11.73% annually over a six-year period. In the TM® group however, the yearly payments decreased 1% to 2% annually in the post-intervention period, resulting in a significant mean annual difference of 13.78% (p=0.0017), compared to the non-TM® group. These data suggest that practice of the TM® technique reduced payments to physicians between 5% and 13% per year over a six-year period, compared to the control group. This type of reduction in medical expenditures could result in billions of dollars saved by governments and private health insurance companies in nations experiencing rapidly rising health care costs.
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