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New Study Reveals: Starting with Chiropractic Saves 40% on Low Back Pain Care

New Study Reveals: Starting with Chiropractic Saves 40% on Low Back Pain Care

The Chiro.Org Blog


SOURCE:   Insurancenewsnet.Com


A new JMPT study finds that low back pain care initiated with a doctor of chiropractic (DC) saves 40% on health care costs when compared with care initiated through a medical doctor (MD), the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) announced today. The study, featuring data from 85,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield beneficiaries, concludes that insurance companies that restrict access to chiropractors for low back pain treatment may inadvertently pay more for care than they would if they removed such restrictions.

Low back pain is a significant public health problem. Up to 85 percent of Americans have back pain at some point in their lives. In addition to its negative effects on employee productivity, back pain treatment accounts for about $50 billion annually in health care costs—making it one of the top 10 most costly conditions treated in the United States.

The study, Cost of Care for Common Back Pain Conditions Initiated With Chiropractic Doctor vs. Medical Doctor/Doctor of Osteopathy as First Physician: Experience of One Tennessee-Based General Health Insurer, which is available online and will also be published in the December 2010 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, looked at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee’s intermediate and large group fully insured population over a two-year span. The insured study population had open access to MDs and DCs through self-referral, and there were no limits applied to the number of MD/DC visits allowed and no differences in co-pays.

Results show that paid costs for episodes of care initiated by a DC were almost 40 percent less than care initiated through an MD. After risk-adjusting each patient’s costs, researchers still found significant savings in the chiropractic group. They estimated that allowing DC-initiated episodes of care would have led to an annual cost savings of $2.3 million for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee.

13 comments to New Study Reveals: Starting with Chiropractic Saves 40% on Low Back Pain Care

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mechanicsville Chiro and Joseph Fanning, Dr. Joe Fanning. Dr. Joe Fanning said: Study: Starting with Chiropractic Saves 40% on Low Back Pain Care http://bit.ly/ca6e7Y […]

  • The title of this article could have easily been “ANOTHER Study Confirms That Chiropractic Saves on Health Care.” With all the discussions in various US state and federal governmental agencies about how to cut costs in health care, this study points out the need for inclusion of chiropractic care in health plans.

  • If this is the case, then why are insurance companies cutting back on chiropractic coverage?


    RESPONSE from Frank:

    Well, ask yourself, who is sitting on their Board, voting for their own profession, and against ours? This recent issue with Kaiser dropping cervical adjusting is a typical example.

    It is a promising sign that Kaiser recently reversed their decision.

  • Too bad insurance companies will ignore this.

  • People think of visiting a chiropractor after an injury or when they have hurt themselves. Visiting a chiropractic center is essential before an injury can happen. When the body is properly aligned it can protect itself from injury far more easily than one that is not properly aligned.

  • Frank,
    I value your opinion and wonder how you see this. I have seen many studies showing the cost benefits, lost time reductions, and better health and wellbeing, but nothing ever changes. What do we need to do as a profession to make these changes? Surely more research is not doing it… Thoughts?

  • As Dr. Garber noted there have been many studies showing the “value” of chiropractic care yet the status quo remains the same. I even wonder why the payors don’t take notice???

    I believe it is due to prejudice and bias by those in charge. Part of the problem is people don’t understand Chiropractic care in how it works and maybe “why” it works.

  • Dr. Garber and Dr. Wood,

    The status quo is that MDs sit on the Boards of almost every Insurance Carrier, and so it’s no surprise that drugs and surgery are always approved, even when the research clearly suggests that they are not effective. Actually, it’s more surprising how many Companies have at least tacit coverage for chiropractic. It’s not simply bias against us. It’s all about who gets the biggest slice of the pie. It’s a purely financial motive to hamstring us.

    Research is the key to improving the situation. To date it’s virtually irrefutable that chiropractic care is the most effective and the most cost-effective treatment for acute and chronic LBP. Now it’s time to turn our research resources towards neck pain and headache. Once that’s accomplished, we can start researching viscerosomatic illnesses like asthma.

  • I believe most people are confused about where they should go when they experience low back symptoms. They have so many options, really. Culturally though we’ve been trained to seek care from who we always seek care from…our local PCP of whatever variety. That’s a lot of work to change the culture of “who do you see first.” Better to start referral relationships with PCPs and specialists who are unbiased against chiropractic care. So when they get consulted first, they refer to who they should be referring to: us.

  • It’s amazing that patients still go see their favorite MD for back pain. I even have long-standing patients who will jump ship and go to an MD when they think they have a “serious” problem. And often these patients come back to me after they get the pain med / muscle relaxer combo that they didn’t want in the first place.

    For a lot of people, they need an OK from the “mainstream” MD before they get on board with chiropractic. It will be nice, when patients understand that they have options. And they don’t need a thumbs up from a guy in a white coat to make a decision.

  • Patient

    Well I am a patient with low back pain. I am 32, the pain is not severe but I want to be proactive to avoid becoming like my family members whose lives have been turned up side down due to their pain.

    I have been working on my core muscles with the help from a PT that my MD recommended.

    Patients rely on the white coats b/c we hope they know suggest what is best and they they know more than we do.

    DO I need to see a Chiro as well? Honestly the thought of having my back cracked scares the heck out of me. But I truly want to start young and take care of my back.

    How does a patient know who to listen to? The Chiro says “come to me I will help you” The PT says the same. FRUSTRATING.

    • Patient,

      Needless to say I am biased, because chiropractic eliminated my own back pain, so feel free to take my comments with a grain of salt.

      I have yet to meet one patient whose back pain came solely from “weak core muscles”. If we are talking Low Back Pain, exercising your abdominal obliques will certainly stabilize the support of your LB, but I don’t think it could correct it. The whole object of chiropractic is to assess those joints and see if chiropractic can help. But to say anything for sure, you would need a DC to give you a thorough exam.

      I hope you will consider trying chiropractic.

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