Literature Review: Is Chiropractic Cost Effective?

With the rising costs of today’s healthcare, more and more people are turning to alternative medicine options for their ailments. My profession has often declared chiropractic cost effective. But is it really? Let say it is. How do you know whether or not it would actually apply to you?

Back pain is in the top 5 most common ailments experienced and diagnosed in today’s medical system. Having said this, there is a high likelihood that you will experience back pain in your life and is something you should be concerned about. Want any other reasons to pay attention to the cost effectiveness of chiropractic vs medical care? Here is a study specifically tailored towards Tennessee residents of Blue Cross Blue Shield who sought care for low back pain between a two year period from 2004 – 2006 and their costs relative to whether they saw a chiropractor or a medical doctor:

As copied from its original source:


The primary aim of this study was to determine if there are differences in the cost of low back pain care when a patient is able to choose a course of treatment with a medical doctor (MD) versus a doctor of chiropractic (DC), given that his/her insurance provides equal access to both provider types.


A retrospective claims analysis was performed on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee’s intermediate and large group fully insured population between October 1, 2004 and September 30, 2006. The insured study population had open access to MDs and DCs through self-referral without any limit to the number of visits or differences in co-pays to these 2 provider types. Our analysis was based on episodes of care for low back pain. An episode was defined as all reimbursed care delivered between the first and the last encounter with a health care provider for low back pain. A 60 day window without an encounter was treated as a new episode. We compared paid claims and risk adjusted costs between episodes of care initiated with an MD with those initiated with a DC.


Paid costs for episodes of care initiated with a DC were almost 40% less than episodes initiated with an MD. Even after risk adjusting each patient’s costs, we found that episodes of care initiated with a DC were 20% less expensive than episodes initiated with an MD.


Beneficiaries in our sampling frame had lower overall episode costs for treatment of low back pain if they initiated care with a DC, when compared to those who initiated care with an MD.


The answer is clear. If you have back pain in Tennessee, you should be taking the chiropractic cost effective option over medical treatment.


Mid South and Spine and Sports Performance

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