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

By |November 16, 2010|News|

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. (more…)

Study Finds the Availability of Chiropractic Care Improves the Value of Health Benefits Plans

By |October 23, 2009|Research|

This review, was commissioned by the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress ( to summarize the existing economic studies of chiropractic care published in peer-reviewed scientific literature, and to use the most robust of these studies to estimate the cost-effectiveness of providing chiropractic insurance coverage in the US.

Executive Summary:

Low back and neck pain are extremely common conditions that consume large amounts of health care resources. Chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation and mobilization, are used by almost half of US patients with persistent back-pain seeking out this modality of treatment.

The peer-reviewed scientific literature evaluating the effectiveness of US chiropractic treatment for patients with back and neck pain suggests that these treatments are at least as effective as other widely used treatments. However, US cost-effectiveness studies have methodological limitations.

High quality randomized cost-effectiveness studies have to date only been performed in the European Union (EU). To model the EU study findings for US populations, researchers applied US insurer-payable unit price data from a large database of employer-sponsored health plans. The findings rest on the assumption that the relative difference in the cost-effectiveness of low back and neck pain treatment with and without chiropractic services are similar in the US and the EU.

The results of the researchers’ analysis are as follows:

-Effectiveness: Chiropractic care is more effective than other modalities for treating low back and neck pain.

Total cost of care per year:

-For low back pain, chiropractic physician care increases total annual per patient spending by $75 compared to medical physician care.

-For neck pain, chiropractic physician care reduces total annual per patient spending by $302 compared to medical physician care.

Cost-effectiveness: When considering effectiveness and cost together, chiropractic physician care for low back and neck pain is highly cost-effective, represents a good value in comparison to medical physician care and to widely accepted cost-effectiveness thresholds.

These findings, in combination with existing US studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, suggest that chiropractic care for the treatment of low back and neck pain is likely to achieve equal or better health outcomes at a cost that compares very favorable to most therapies that are routinely covered in US health benefits plans. As a result, the addition of chiropractic coverage for the treatment of low back and neck pain at prices typically payable in US employer-sponsored health benefit plans will likely increase value-for-dollar by improving clinical outcomes and either reducing total spending (neck pain) or increasing total spending (low back pain) by a smaller percentage than clinical outcomes improve.

The full report can be downloaded here.

Pilot study finds chiropractic care, physical therapy may reduce costs

By |September 10, 2009|News|

Source Risk and Insurance Online

Individuals with musculoskeletal disorders who received chiropractic care or physical therapy had lower health care costs and were less likely to have surgery than employees who did not receive those services, according to a recent report.

The findings come from a one-year pilot program designed by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield to measure patient quality of care. Researchers concluded that significant clinical outcomes and health care cost reductions were attributable to the use of chiropractic and other physical medicine services. Overall, 89 percent of all individuals receiving physical medicine services reported improvement of at least 30 percent within 30 days.

The 2008 pilot — an ongoing quality improvement program for Iowa and South Dakota physical medicine providers — analyzed data on care provided by 238 chiropractors, physical therapists and occupational therapists to 5,500 Wellmark members with MSDs. Wellmark utilized Triad Healthcare to help administer the program and collaborated with the company to collect data and measure outcomes. Triad also analyzed the chiropractic and physical therapy utilization data for the pilot and has continued to administer the program in 2009.

Supporters of chiropractic treatment praised the findings, saying that the cost-effectiveness of the method has been documented in several studies.

Glenn Manceaux, president of the American Chiropractic Association, pointed to a study published in a 2005 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics that found chiropractic and medical care have comparable costs for treating chronic low-back pain, with chiropractic care producing significantly better outcomes. In addition, a study published in a 2003 edition of Spine medical journal found that manual manipulation provides better short-term relief of chronic spinal pain than a variety of medications, he said.

“Especially during the health care reform debate, it’s important that chiropractic and other conservative care methods are taken into serious consideration as a cost-effective alternative to the utilization of expensive surgery and hospital-based care,” he said.