Health care is expensive. As a result, health insurance is expensive. Health care related expenses are taking a bigger piece out of every family’s budget and medical bills are one of the most common causes of bankruptcy in America. The debate over what to do about it is a heated one and unfortunately, while most people are arguing about who pays for it, we should be trying to figure out how to decrease our need for medical care, which is the only real way to decrease the associated costs.
A study published in Health Affairs addressed this by looking at how chiropractic care and other forms complementary and alternative medicine can help drive down total health care costs. Health insurance companies often cut or limit coverage for these services in order to save money. According to the study, cutting chiropractic coverage actually “triggered increased spending.”
Furthermore, the author stated that “complementary and alternative medicine appears to be relatively inexpensive when compared to allopathic medicine” and that “if medical care providers are willing to collaborate with local complementary and alternative medicine service providers, health insurance providers would be more likely to cut overall costs and help slow growth in national health care spending.”
Another study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that “Primary care physicians utilizing an integrative medical approach emphasizing a variety of complementary and alternative medicine therapies had substantially improved clinical outcomes and cost offsets compared with primary care physicians utilizing conventional medicine alone.” Which resulted in “43% less hospital admissions, 58.4% less days in the hospital, 43.2% less outpatient surgeries and procedures, and a 51.8% reduction in drug costs when compared to those under conventional medicine alone for the same HMO product in the same geography over the same time frame.”
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had a patient get well in our office for their back pain instead of going to a ‘pain management clinic’ where they would have had spinal injections (which cost $2,000 apiece). By seeing us instead of getting injections every 3 months, we’re saving the health insurance company around $8,000 per year. In addition, we also see people who no longer need to fill their prescriptions for migraine medications, pain medications, and arthritis medications (all of which are extremely expensive) and we are also able to help people avoid unbelievably costly surgeries. Yet instead of sending us a thank you for saving them all that money, some health insurance companies still discriminate against chiropractors. Which makes no sense, especially since most mainstream medical treatments for things like back pain, neck pain, and headaches just cover up the problem.
However, when it comes to medical providers actually referring to chiropractors, we still have patients tell us that their medical doctors don’t ‘approve of them seeing us’, even after they’ve gotten great results. I guess most of them just can’t get past the negative views they were taught in medical school. It’s better than it was, but we have a long way to go before medical doctors actually recommend alternative health care practitioners. Since most medical doctors still believe that drugs and surgeries are the only path to health. They largely ignore things like diet and exercise, and mostly shun alternative therapies like chiropractic care. As long as that this remains the standard, our population will continue to get sicker and sicker. Because if one thing is for certain, the more drugs a person is on, the sicker they tend to get, regardless of who pays for it. The focus should be on getting people healthier through natural means first, and then resorting to drugs and surgeries only when all else fails. This will save money and lives.