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Cost Effectiveness of Chiropractic Care


One lesser known benefit of chiropractic care is how it affects and can decrease your healthcare spending. That is right, chiropractic care can help not only your spine but also your pocketbook feel better. A randomized control trial found there was a significant cost-savings related to hospital contacts in patients who received chiropractic care compared to those who self managed their symptoms, in this study specifically about unspecified chest pain (1). However, the cost effectiveness of chiropractic care extends to other conditions as well. A study looking back on claims paid by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina found the charges associated with uncomplicated low back pain (LBP) utilizing both Medical Doctor (MD) and Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) providers were on average less than MD and Physical Therapist (PT) treated patients (2). The same study went on to show that DC only care versus MD only care was less expensive for both uncomplicated LBP and complicated LBP (2).


Saving money for our patients is a great achievement, but it gets better. Another Blue Cross Blue Shield cost analysis study found that the major savings were to be in the categories of spinal surgery and opioid usage (3). Finally, when looking at Medicare patients with multiple comorbidities who only used chiropractic adjustments during their chronic LBP episodes had lower overall costs of care, shorter episodes, and lower costs of care per episode day compared with those who went to the conventional medical care followed by a visiting a chiropractor, as well as compared to those who went to a chiropractor followed by conventional medical care, and also those who only sought conventional medical care (4). Additionally those patients who utilized chiropractic care in combination with traditional medical care still had lower costs per episode and per episode day than those who did not utilize chiropractic care at all (4).


Although the second Blue Cross Blue Shield study mentioned here discussed savings in the opioid usage category, another study found that Medicare patients with chronic LBP treated with opioids incurred lower long term costs for their back pain; however, their overall healthcare costs were higher than those who received chiropractic adjustments (5). This finding aligns with a famous BJ Palmer quote: “Chiropractic is health insurance. Premiums small. Dividends LARGE.” In the small picture, care might seem like a large burden, but as we discussed today, the long term benefits both financially as well as overall health are immense. As previously mentioned on our Facebook page, we are now in network with the following insurance companies: Blue Cross Blue Shield, UnitedHealthcare, HealthPartners, and Medicare. If you are interested in utilizing your insurance and are wondering what your benefits include, give us a call before your next visit and will get those verified for you!



Sources

  1. Stochkendahl, M. J., Sørensen, J., Vach, W., Christensen, H. W., Høilund-Carlsen, P. F., & Hartvigsen, J. (2016). Cost-effectiveness of chiropractic care versus self-management in patients with musculoskeletal chest pain. Open heart, 3(1), e000334. https://doi.org/10.1136/openhrt-2015-000334

  2. Hurwitz, E. L., Li, D., Guillen, J., Schneider, M. J., Stevans, J. M., Phillips, R. B., Phelan, S. P., Lewis, E. A., Armstrong, R. C., & Vassilaki, M. (2016). Variations in Patterns of Utilization and Charges for the Care of Low Back Pain in North Carolina, 2000 to 2009: A Statewide Claims' Data Analysis. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 39(4), 252–262. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2016.02.006

  3. Weeks, W. B., Pike, J., Donath, J., Fiacco, P., & Justice, B. D. (2019). Conservative spine care pathway implementation is associated with reduced health care expenditures in a controlled, before-after observational study. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 34(8), 1381–1382. https://doi-org.palmer.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s11606-019-04942-7

  4. Weeks, W. B., Leininger, B., Whedon, J. M., Lurie, J. D., Tosteson, T. D., Swenson, R., O’Malley, A. J., & Goertz, C. M. (2016). The association between use of chiropractic care and costs of care among older medicare patients with chronic low back pain and multiple comorbidities. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 39(2), 63–75. https://doi-org.palmer.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2016.01.006

  5. Whedon, J. M., Kizhakkeveettil, A., Toler, A., MacKenzie, T. A., Lurie, J. D., Bezdjian, S., Haldeman, S., Hurwitz, E., & Coulter, I. (2021). Long-term medicare costs associated with opioid analgesic therapy vs spinal manipulative therapy for chronic low back pain in a cohort of older adults. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 44(7), 519–526. https://doi-org.palmer.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2021.09.001




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