June 9, 2014

Sticking it to ACC

From Mark Hanna on Twitter, ACC expenditures on acupuncture (the sources are in the Twitter conversation)



The graph shows three things. Firstly, there was a review promised. Second, the expenditure on acupuncture is vastly different from the projections. Third, it’s getting to be a moderately large sum of money.

Comparing to the 2012 Pharmac report (PDF, p5), there were only seven prescription items where Pharmac spends more per year than the $17 million ACC spent on acupuncture that year (and one about the same). Things like diabetes test strips and the breast-cancer drug Herceptin.

I’m not as opposed as Mark to spending taxpayer money on the placebo effect, but at some point you have to wonder whether there might be more cost-effective ways to get it.


Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »


  • avatar

    Another thing I noticed about these numbers is that, comparing the reports from 2004 and 2014, the expenditure during the 2003/04 financial year apparently decreased by around half a million dollars.

    The value reported in 2004 was $4,940,613.97 whereas the value reported in 2014 was $4,424,458. I understand there’s always going to be some margin of error, I’d have thought that was quite a big one?

    It also made the fact that ACC decided in 2004 to report expenditure right down to single cents seem rather silly. Being very specific isn’t that helpful when you’re not particularly accurate.

    3 years ago

  • avatar

    In the past year, ACC spending on acupuncture has gone up by a further 20%. Over the 2013/14 financial year they spent $24,056,805 on it, compared with $19,961,329 over 2012/13.

    Source: https://fyi.org.nz/request/1822-acupuncture-spending-breakdown

    3 years ago