Chiropractors Serving as Primary Care Providers Decrease Costs - Study Shows

When Chiropractors function as Primary Providers in health plans, these plans save quite a lot of money. This according to new research published within the May 2007 publication of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. The research, also reported on in the June 7, 2007 may have profound implications as the US presidential campaigns appear to be dealing more with the issues related to health care and methods to create a system of universal health care affordable.

Researchers compared the expense and clinical usage of members signed up for a conventional health maintenance organization (HMO). The study reviewed data from those HMO members who had an integrative CAM Independent Physicians Association (IPA) and compared all of them with members who had a conventional medical IPA. Essentially they look at the costs of these programs in which the primary care physicians (PCPs) were exclusively doctors of chiropractic. The study, led by Richard Sarnat, MD, not just compared costs but additionally viewed patient satisfaction. The outcomes indicated that spanning a seven year period, patients who utilized chiropractors along with other CAM-oriented primary care physicians had a 60.2% decrease in-hospital admissions, 59.0% reduction in hospital days, 62.0% less outpatient surgeries and procedures, as well as an 85% decline in pharmaceutical costs in comparison with the total network HMO utilization rates and costs where medical physicians were the main physicians. Coauthor James Winterstein, DC commented on the results by saying, "Our newest analysis supports earlier findings that patients visiting CAM (Complimentary and Alternative Medicine)-orientated primary care physicians (PCP) -- primarily chiropractors -- experienced fewer hospitalizations, underwent fewer surgeries and used considerably fewer pharmaceuticals than HMO patients who received traditional medical care." Along with costs savings those enrollees who utilized chiropractic consistently reported a greater satisfaction rating with their HMO than those who did not have chiropractic. The study showed that the rates of patient satisfaction ranged between 89% and 100% and that patients consistently rated their experiences more positively than did members enrolled within the HMO's offering only conventional medical care. Dr. Winterstein summed up the results and their impact by stating, "This study confirms that integration of allopathic, chiropractic and other complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers can positively impact patient quality of care while limiting overall costs. This approach to patient care has great potential to improve the U.S. healthcare system."

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