The Cost-Effectiveness of Chiropractic Care vs. Medical Treatment
With a precarious economy and the unknown future of healthcare in the US, consumers need better options in relieving pain and promoting health. A trip to a medical office for neck or low back pain can rapidly progress to medication dependence and thousands of dollars in medical expenses. Chiropractic care is increasing in popularity due to its approach to wellness and prevention healthcare, not reaction medicine. As more research exposes the cost-effectiveness of chiropractic care for treating neuromuscular complaints such as neck and low back pain, more insurances are including it as a covered benefit, and more medical doctors are referring their patients to chiropractors for relief.
Medical Treatment is Expensive!
On average, a visit to a medical office ranges from $60 to $300+ depending on the doctor and the nature of the visit. Even with insurance coverage, a deductible or large co-pay can easily add up to a deep hole in your wallet. You leave the office only to go to a pharmacy to buy prescription medications that may be dangerous and/or addictive. By the end of it all, you owe about $1,000 to the medical office because you hurt your back mowing the yard last weekend. The pain medication may ease the pain, but it does not address the underlying injury by masking it. Once the medication is gone, the pain returns, and long story short you become addicted to medication. For countless people this is their current situation. The insurance companies continue to pay pharmaceutical companies to keep producing chemicals to keep up the addiction rates; a vicious cycle.
The Contrasting View of Healthcare
Same situation, but instead of seeing your family doctor for the pain, you decide to see a chiropractor. A typical visit to a chiropractic office costs between $30 and $60. Many chiropractors offer a free or discounted examination and x-rays, something you would never see at a medical office. The chiropractor’s goal is to get you out of pain AND fix the underlying issue so the pain doesn’t return. Since chiropractors do not use damaging medications, the pain relief may not be immediate and can be discouraging to those looking for a “quick-fix”. Initial treatment periods may last a few weeks but the total cost of care still remains far less than going to see a medical doctor.
Chiropractic Care Saves You Money and Takes it Away From Big Pharma
Recent research has been investigating the cost-effectiveness of chiropractic care among other natural alternatives (physiotherapy, acupuncture, massage) versus conventional medicine. A 2012 systemic review found spinal manipulation therapy to be more cost-effective for neck and low back pain when compared with general practitioner care, physiotherapy or exercise. A study in 2007 compared care costs of a patient under the treatment of a chiropractor as their primary care physician (PCP) versus a medical doctor. After 70,000 member-months spanning a 7-year period, hospital admission costs were decreased by 60.2%, cost of days spent in the hospital were decreased by 59%, and outpatient surgeries and procedures were down by 62%. If these numbers were not shocking enough, the costs associated with pharmaceuticals decreased by 85% when compared to conventional medically-driven care. All of these comparisons were done in the same time frame, geography, and health maintenance organization product.
Understand the Big Picture?
The message would seem to be crystal clear, but only recently have insurance providers and the medical industry began accepting chiropractic care as a worthwhile and cost-effective treatment for neck and low back pain. If you haven’t been to a chiropractor, it’s definitely time that you started. Ask friends and family to refer you to a trusted chiropractor or look-up reviews on the internet for someone in your area. The next time you need to see a doctor, help out your body and your wallet by going to your chiropractor!