According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), in 2014, 32 million more people will have access to affordable healthcare, which means 40,000 more providers will be needed to account for the rapid increase in patients.
Universal healthcare allows people of all socioeconomic backgrounds to be eligible to purchase a healthcare plan. Many can benefit from chiropractic care and the new healthcare act will allow more people than ever to access holistic treatment.
The power of an adjustment
Chiropractors provide non-invasive, natural healthcare to help alleviate and eliminate common musculoskeletal conditions. Recent research performed by the CHP Group (2010) demonstrates that chiropractic care is effective and affordable, when compared to the average cost of hospital visits, surgery, or other invasive treatment options. Currently, many private health insurance companies consider chiropractic care as a specialty, leading to higher co-pays for routine office visits.
Up until now, many insurance companies discriminated against chiropractors. Often times, the insurance co-pay is more than what a chiropractor would charge for a spinal or extremity adjustment. These high co-pays are one of the obstacles that deter the public from seeking chiropractic care.
Musculoskeletal injuries typically require more than one visit in order to restore joint motion, reduce muscular hypertonicity/trigger points and educate the patient on proper biomechanics, stretches/strengthening exercises and postural re-education to avoid re-injury and chronicity.
Benefits of Obamacare
The ACA’s government relations vice president, John Falardeau stated that Obamacare “is a huge opportunity for the profession to advance, joining the movement to reduce overall health care costs and shift the health care paradigm to one focused on prevention and wellness. A lot of organizations and provider groups didn’t get anything in the bill.
In fact, some providers’ reimbursement was even reduced. The fact that chiropractic got a good deal of what it was looking for means effective lobbying” (Schetchikova, 2013). Dr. Lehman, an associate professor of clinical sciences at the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic, also had this to say regarding Obamacare, “DCs could become valuable members of the primary care medical team” (2013).
• Insurance companies can no longer discriminate
- “This will ensure that insurance companies cannot unfairly exclude DCs from practicing under the capacity of their training and licensure on a federal level” (Schetchikova, 2013)
• Chiropractors now accepted as primary care providers
- “Doctors of chiropractic may now join other medical practitioners, health care specialists, social workers, pharmacists, physician assistants and nurse practioners to care for patients within integrated, holistic and patient-centered primary care environments” (Lehman and Anderson, 2013).
Falardeau went on to say, “Patients want and deserve chiropractic care. The patient voice will always be the strongest and most listened to.”
32 million patients are entering the healthcare system in 2014, many of which were leery of what chiropractors do and never had the opportunity to experience chiropractic due to costs and lack of affordable insurance.
“We recommend that now is the time for the third-largest health care profession in the United States to realize that health care reform enables DCs to integrate into the health care system and lower the cost of caring for patients while providing salubrious treatments and reducing injudicious use of pharmaceuticals.”
Small steps equal big changes
Not all chiropractors are exactly thrilled about Obamacare, convinced that their charges for patients out of pocket are less than what their insurance costs will be. It is important to note that the average cost of an emergency room visit for back problems is $871 and the average cost for a headache is $1,210. Both cost much more than a chiropractic treatment plan, treating the source of the pain and reducing recurrent exacerbations.
Obamacare does not solve all of the problems doctors of chiropractic face, however, it is a huge step in the right direction. The new healthcare law will provide an enormous opportunity for us to educate and treat even more of the American people than ever before. This is one small step forcing Americans to take on the responsibility of mounting healthcare costs. As Dr. Szagesh, a chiropractor stated, “I actually believe 10 years from now, people will say, “why didn’t we do this before” (2013).