Groundbreaking Study Reveals that Employees with Chiropractic Coverage Incur Significantly Fewer Back Surgeries, Hospitalizations and Treatment Costs
 
   

Groundbreaking Study Reveals that Employees
with Chiropractic Coverage Incur Significantly
Fewer Back Surgeries, Hospitalizations and Treatment Costs

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
Send all comments or additions to:
   Frankp@chiro.org
 
   

Thanks to   Benefits Marketing Assoc for permission to reproduce this article!


SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 12, 2004--   Employers who offer chiropractic health plan benefits to their employees can realize significant reductions in employee utilization and overall treatment costs for back pain as compared to employers who do not offer such coverage, according to a new study published in the October issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. This is the first study to definitively link chiropractic benefits to reductions in healthcare utilization and costs.

The study concluded that employees with chiropractic health plan coverage, as compared to those without, incurred a 41 percent reduction in hospitalizations for back pain and a 32 percent reduction in back surgeries. In addition, the study showed that those with chiropractic health plan coverage incurred a 37 percent reduction in the use of highly expensive CT/MRI scans for back problems and a 23 percent reduction in the use of x-rays. Overall, the cost per episode of treating back pain was 28 percent less for employees with chiropractic health plan coverage than for those without coverage.

The study, sponsored by American Specialty Health (ASH) of San Diego and conducted by independent health services research organization Health Benchmarks Inc., is the largest ever done comparing back treatment costs for individuals with and without chiropractic health plan coverage. Covering four-years of retrospective claims data, the study compared over 700,000 health plan members with chiropractic coverage to 1 million members of the same health plan who had no chiropractic coverage.

"Prior to this no study had ever linked chiropractic benefits to lower utilization levels in a real-world employee setting," said co-investigator Douglas Metz, D.C., chief health services officer for American Specialty Health. "Our study shows that systematic access to managed chiropractic care may prove to be not only clinically beneficial but can reduce key cost factors that drive up employer health costs in traditional care settings.

"A key reason for the reduction in overall healthcare expenses is that most chiropractic care is a direct substitution for more expensive medical care, according to other study findings which we published in the August issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine," added Dr. Metz. "In short, use of chiropractic care does not result in additional resource utilization to the healthcare system."

"This study demonstrates that chiropractic coverage can be a powerful cost containment tool for employers and health plans that are struggling to keep the lid on escalating costs," said George DeVries, president and chief executive officer of American Specialty Health.

In the United States back pain is the second leading cause for physician visits and is second only to childbirth for hospitalizations. It is also the most prevalent chronic medical condition and the number one cause of long-term disability. Back pain, headache, arthritis and musculoskeletal disorders combine to cost employers $61 billion per year in lost productive time alone, according to a 2003 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

About American Specialty Health

ASH is the nation's leading specialty benefits organization for complementary healthcare, providing health benefit, health education and affinity network programs to employer groups, trust funds, health plans and insurance carriers nationwide. Based in San Diego, California, ASH has over 500 employees and more than 9 million members in benefit programs nationwide. Its subsidiary, ASH Insurance, is currently licensed or admitted as an insurer in 42 states and the District of Columbia. For more information about American Specialty Health, visit www.ASHCompanies.com.


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