Why Not Seeing a Chiropractor Can Cost You
Didn’t consult a chiropractor first for your back pain? That’ll cost you $1.3 billion. No, you personally won’t be on the hook for the entire amount. But in analyzing two year’s worth of its own insurance data, the health care giant, Optum, projected that’s how much money healthcare consumers would’ve saved had patients who’d experienced 14.7 million reported non-surgical spinal episodes received chiropractic care at the outset. Optum’s definition of “at the outset” is “within the first 10 days” of a spinal episode. Research found that taking advantage of that window drastically reduces the need for everything from costly surgery to injections to prescription medications — a conclusion certain to fuel the growing “chiropractic first” movement espoused by many health experts.
And it’s not just about the money. “The quality of back pain treatment” would likewise be “improved,” Optum has contended, if doctors of chiropractic – who already perform more than 94 percent of all spinal manipulations in the U.S. – were consulted first by patients. “Chiropractic care advances the opportunity for optimal outcomes across care delivery, quality and cost,” said the not-for-profit Foundation for Chiropractic Progress’ Gerard Clum, DC. Dr. Clum also pointed to a recent study in the journal “Spine” that found patients suffering from lower back pain who first visited a chiropractor, versus a surgeon, were more than 40 percent less likely to go under the knife.
Coincidentally, 40 percent is also what the Foundation pegs the per-episode savings at when chiropractic care precedes medical or surgical interventions.