It is clear to anyone concerned about fixing the problems facing the U.S. health care system that chiropractic physicians, with their conservative approach to pain relief and health improvement, are an important part of the solution. Chiropractic physicians are the highest rated healthcare practitioners for low-back pain treatment—treating nearly 27 million Americans annually—and are rated above physical therapists, specialist physicians/MDs (neurosurgeons, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons) and primary care physicians/MDs (family or internal medicine) in patient satisfaction.
This is not surprising when you consider that injured workers are 28 times less likely to undergo spinal surgery if their first point of contact is a chiropractor rather than a surgeon, and that treatment for low back pain initiated by a chiropractic physician costs up to 20% less than treatment started by a family practice medical doctor. The sad fact is that in some states (South Carolina included), chiropractic physicians are excluded from the workers’ compensation program.

Chiropractic consistently outperforms all other back pain treatments

… including prescription medication, deep-tissue massage, yoga, Pilates, and over-the-counter medication according to a leading consumer survey. Unnecessary spinal fusion surgery (a procedure that has seen a 500% increase in the last decade) has resulted in an estimated $200 million in improper billing to Medicare in 2011 alone. It is noteworthy that Medicare deemed the surgeries medically unnecessary because more conservative treatment hadn’t been tried first.
The need for providers who offer a conservative approach to pain management causing a resulting drop in spine care costs has never been greater. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently classified prescription drug abuse in the United States as an epidemic. A telling fact is the U.S. is home to six percent of the world’s population, yet consumes 80% of its pain medication.

Chiropractors are designated as physician-level providers

… in the vast majority of states and the federal Medicare program. The services provided by doctors of chiropractic are also available in federal health delivery systems, including those administered by Medicaid, the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, Federal Workers’ Compensation, and all state workers’ compensation programs. Chiropractic Physicians complete nationally accredited, four-year doctoral graduate school programs with a curriculum that includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical internship, with the average DC program equivalent in classroom hours to medical and osteopathic schools.

Chiropractic services are one of the safest

… and most effective treatments for back pain, neck pain and headaches, and can help patients avoid riskier treatments, more expensive care and get well sooner. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), to its credit, considers chiropractic care as an Essential Health Benefit.

What will happen in the future

… as the Affordable Care Act continues to roll out, or if it ultimately is replaced by something else? Time will tell, and the recent scandal involving the Department of Veterans Affairs paints a bleak picture of what single payer, federally controlled health care looks like.  But whatever the future holds, chiropractic care will thrive as long as health-care consumers are still allowed to have their choice of care.