Study Touts Back Pain Coverage Benefits

October 14, 2004 ( - Companies that offer chiropractic health plan benefits to their employees can realize "significant" cost savings and better worker utilization over companies without such coverage, according to a new study.

The research, published in the October issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, concluded that those with coverage incurred a 41% reduction in hospitalizations for back pain and a 32% reduction in back surgeries. The study was sponsored by American Specialty Health (ASH) of San Diego, a specialty health plan for chiropractic and acupuncture benefit programs.

In addition, the study showed that those with chiropractic health plan coverage incurred a 37% reduction in the use of expensive CT/MRI scans for back problems and a 23% reduction in x-ray use. Overall, the cost per episode of treating back pain was 28% less for employees with chiropractic health plan coverage than for those without coverage.

“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.

The study covered four-years of retrospective claims data, from more than 700,000 health plan members with chiropractic coverage to 1 million members of the same health plan who had no chiropractic coverage.