The practice of chiropractic has been under-looked not only by the public, but also by the larger health community. Going to a chiropractor has never been emphasized throughout our history in America but recently, with more research and more active clientele, chiropractic care for the back is a developing health issue for all Americans. Unfortunately, “Michigan, which completely ignored the scientific basis behind chiropractic and prevented doctors of chiropractic from treating patients as they were educated and trained, was the most restrictive in the nation” (MAC). According The Social Security Administration, in 2011, the most common reason for people to be disabled was due to “Back Pain and Other Musculoskeletal Problems” coming in with 33.8% (Joffe-Walt). With Michigan being a state historically known for employing a large number of power plant workers, the state needs to analyze what is happening to its workers as they age and get laid off.
If workers can afford going to a chiropractor, they may help decrease their chances of applying for disability. However, currently, many labor workers are unable to find less physically straining job which makes them turn to government aid and hurts everyone in the equation. According to Dr. Perry Timberlake, of Greensboro, Alabama, “if you have a particular back problem and a college degree, you're not disabled. Without the degree, you are” (Joffe-Walt). Many power plants that get shut down result in their unemployed workers going on disability instead of looking for another job because they think there is nothing else available for them, and according to Dr. Timberlake’s explanation, they are right. Many labor workers prefer jobs where they can sit all day and rest their back but this is not an option because they merely have a high school degree. There needs to be a way to control these disabilities from being a “de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills,” (Joffe-Walt).
Currently, lobbyists are working hard to help chiropractors. The dilemma between cost and coverage is what stands in the way of chiropractors winning this debate. This is most evident in California “where the essential benefits package that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in September does not include chiropractic services,” says Amy Goodnough of The New York Times. Ultimately, The American Chiropractic Association is “hoping for change,” and willing to achieve this by any means necessary (Goodnough). When patients are not reimbursed for their care, they pay more “out of pocket fees.” Therefore, Michigan also has introduced SB 0012 which states that reimbursement “shall not be denied,” (Michigan.legislature.gov). However, it seems as if the only way change can come is when demand is high enough. Sara Warber, M.D., co-director of the University of Michigan Integrative Family Medicine Clinic says, “Insurance coverage will increase for chiropractic services when research clearly shows value for patients. Insurers also will change when the demand is sufficiently high for purchases of these services. When companies demand it, insurance will be there,” (Greene).
As a matter of fact, there is research in favor of chiropractic care. The Chiropractic Hospital-based Interventions Research Outcomes Study was conducted in 2010 and “results showed that study care resulted in significantly better functional improvements and quality of life outcomes than usual care,” (Bishop). However, the truth is that chiropractic coverage is an economic issue. Therefore, we must weigh the opportunity costs. If continuing on the road we are on, and costing the government $260 billion a year, “we will run out of benefits by 2016” and as the people of the Social Security Administration stated, “we cannot afford this,” (Joffee-Walt). Chiropractors should be treated like all other doctors and provide smaller copays and increase the amount of patients that use their service. If each state introduces health care plans that will cover chiropractor care under a reasonable co-payment and deductible, we are not only helping our health industry and our citizens’ well-being, but our national productivity as well.
Bishop, Paul. “The Chiropractic Hospital-based Interventions Research Outcomes (CHIRO) Study: A Randomized Controlled Trial on the Effectiveness of Clinical Practice Guidelines in the Medical and Chiropractic Management of Patients with Acute Mechanical Low Back Pain.” The Spine Journal. Vol. 10. (2010): Pages 1055-1064. Print.
Goodnough, Abby. “Interest Groups Push to Fill Margins of Health Coverage.” NYTimes.com. 5 Dec. 2012. New York Times. 31 July 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/06/health/interest-groups-push-to-fill-margins-of- health-coverage.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Greene, Jay. “Chiropractors Press Reimbursement Dispute With Blue Cross in the Courts.” CrainsDetroit.com. 8 Aug. 2011. Crains Detroit Business. 31 July 2013. <http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20110805/STAFFBLOG10/110809926/chirop ractors-press-reimbursement-dispute-with-blue-cross-in-the>
Joffe-Walt, Chana. “Unfit for Work.” NPR. 2013. NPR.org. 31 July 2013. http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/ Michigan Association of Chiropractors. Legislative Issues. 2013. Chiromi.com. 31 July 2013. http://www.chiromi.com/legislative/ Michigan Legislature. SB 0012 of 2013..