How conservative care can lower the cost of healthcare

Healthcare cost

The conservative-care-first approach of chiropractic practitioners  can accomplish substantial reductions in healthcare costs if used as an alternative to expensive, high-risk , unnecessary and/or excessive procedures such as surgeries (spine surgeries), invasive procedures (spinal injections), hospital admissions and readmissions, prescription drugs (opioids and NSAIDS), diagnostic imaging (MRIs and CTs) and other diagnostic testing , as well as related. These are the traditional approaches to managing chronic pain and disease, and they entail complications that drive costs even higher up, for example hospital infections, surgical/hospital mistakes, prescription drug adverse events, and follow-up care resulting from said mistakes and adverse events.

Prevalence of chronic conditions

Medicare patients that were treated for 5 or more chronic conditions












Similarly, obesity, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension doubled between 1987 and 2002, and the first two conditions are permeating all age groups; children and teenagers are no exception. More than 70 million Americans are overweight, and over 100 million experience chronic pain. Together, they cost the United States healthcare system close to $800 billion a year. These are some of the reasons that $2.7 trillion and $551 billion were spent in 2011 on healthcare in general and on Medicare in particular, respectively. At this rate, the Medicare trust fund will be depleted by 2026, as predicted by the Medicare Board of Trustees in May of last year.

Benjamin Franklin said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Sadly, healthcare authorities seem to rely more on ‘don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.’ Indeed, there is more profit in treating – and very seldom curing – the disease than there is in preventing it, but sometimes it’s not about what we make but what we save. And a lot can be saved with health promotion, prevention, and wellness, all cornerstones of the chiropractic profession. Of course, that would demand considerable changes in the healthcare system’s delivery and culture. Numbers don’t lie, though. According to the IOM, 75% of healthcare money is devoted to chronic conditions. And the CDC has pointed out that as many as 80% of those conditions are caused by poor lifestyle and health habits, and could be prevented by teaching patients better habits.

As can be surmised, the best first step toward getting healthcare spending back on track is to transition to a platform where conservative care comes before costlier and riskier interventions, emphasizing conservative diagnostic testing and treatment in an out-patient setting and a non-drug, non-surgical conservative care approach. And the most qualified personnel to put conservative care at the forefront as opposed to the background is any broadly available Doctor of Chiropractic who could provide patients with education and advise on avoiding risks and promoting health strategies to reduce the physical and financial burden of chronic conditions. Simultaneously, this would allow primary care providers and specialists to prioritize those patients who do require aggressive and expensive therapies.

If conservative-care-first providers were strategically placed where they could be put to the best possible use, not only would they help to alleviate the shortage of primary care providers but would also be instrumental in turning the tide from symptom and disease treatment to lifestyle modification, prevention of chronic disease and overall wellness. Doctors of Chiropractic are reared as conservative primary care providers who can serve as portal of entry and offer many primary care provider services just as safely, efficiently and effectively. They can examine, diagnose and establish care plans that make use of the best conservative alternatives and refer patients with acute medical emergencies to other healthcare practitioners.