|Chiropractic Care Lowers
Health Care Costs, Study Shows
A study published in the October 11, 2004 issue of the
Archives of Internal Medicine showed that including
chiropractic care into health plans actually reduces the
health care expenditures for those in the plan as well
as reducing the overall cost to the insurance company
for that plan.
This study was a retrospective claims data analysis,
where the records of 700,000 people with chiropractic
coverage in their plan were compared to another 1
million people who did not have chiropractic coverage.
The utilization records were then compared for a 4-year
period to see if there were any differences in usage and
The purpose of this study was to ascertain the effect
access to chiropractic care would have on the overall
usage of health care resources as well as
neuromusculoskeletal-specific conditions, (such as back
pain) within a large managed-care system. The study
noted that back pain accounts for more than $100 billion
in annual health care costs in the US and is the second
leading cause of doctor visits and hospitalizations.
The results showed that chiropractic care reduced costs
across the board. For instance, total health care
expenditures for plan members with chiropractic
insurance coverage, was on average $1463, compared to
$1671 for those without chiropractic coverage. As
expected, there were also savings for those with
specific back pain problems. The study showed that less
x-rays were needed, less MRIs taken, and considerably
less hospitalizations were needed for the members in the
plan that included chiropractic over those where
chiropractic was not included.
Comparing the health plans that include chiropractic to
the ones that do not, the study found that:
Chiropractic care cut the cost of treating back pain by
Chiropractic care reduced hospitalizations among back
pain patients by 41%.
Chiropractic care reduced back surgeries by 32%.
Chiropractic care reduced the cost of medical imaging,
such as X-rays or MRIs, by 37%.
Taking into account that this study was published in a
medical journal, the stated conclusion was striking. The
researchers concluded, “Access to managed chiropractic
care may reduce overall health care expenditures through
several effects, including (1) positive risk selection;
(2) substitution of chiropractic for traditional medical
care, particularly for spine conditions; (3) more
conservative, less invasive treatment profiles; and (4)
lower health service costs associated with managed
chiropractic care. Systematic access to managed
chiropractic care not only may prove to be clinically
beneficial but also may reduce overall health care