Data from 85,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Tennessee beneficiaries over a period of two years, it was discovered that when patients initiated treatment for low back pain with a doctor of chiropractic (DC) instead of a medical doctor (MD) costs were nearly 40% lower.
The study performed by Richard L. Liliedahl, MD and colleagues will be formally published in the upcoming December 2010 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.
Dollar-for-dollar the costs associated with treating back pain can go toe-to-toe with nearly any malady. $50 billion is spent annually on back pain related health care costs.
Patients in this BCBS study did not have limits to the number of visits allowed nor were there any differences in co-pays between the MD and the DC group. The insured had open access to DC’s or MD’s without any gatekeeper referral required.
Many insurance policies have limited or no chiropractic benefits. This study estimated that if patients who sought medical care first would have initiated care with chiropractors, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee would have saved nearly $2.3 million.
American Chiropractic President Rick McMichael, DC commented on the findings, “As doctors of chiropractic, we know first hand that our care often helps patients avoid or reduce more costly interventions such as drugs and surgery. This study supports what we see in our practices every day.” “It also demonstrates the value of chiropractic care at a critical time, when our nation is attempting to reform it’s health care system and contain runaway costs.”