Chiropractic Advocacy: Do chiropractors have a professional responsibility to help those less fortunate?

With almost 50 million uninsured Americans in today’s world and roughly three million living below the poverty level, health care providers have an obligation and duty to help patients of all ages, economical status levels, with and without insurance; but how many providers do? Chiropractors can benefit by reaching out to lower income communities by restructuring fee scales to meet the needs of the majority of Americans living in pain and poverty to get the help they are entitled to.

Helping those in need

Most minimum wage workers stand for long hours, perform repetitive motions and are under high amounts of stress to increase output. “Low back pain (LBP) continues to be one of the most costly work-related injuries in the United States in terms of disability and treatment costs” (Cifuentes, 2011). Oftentimes, workers do not have sick pay and do not have time to recuperate or seek proper medical attention for their injuries, typically musculoskeletal in nature, nor do they have the financial means to seek out such care. Retail, mechanic/automotive, hair/nail stylist, food, factory, airline, lawn maintenance and hospitality employees all work long hours with low wages, with minimal or no benefits to cover typical medical costs or alternative healthcare options.

Who needs us

About 60 percent of the people who seek chiropractic care are for back and neck pain conditions. The current “typical” chiropractic patient is a white, educated middle-aged individual. An “ideal” chiropractic patient is a white, middle-aged, educated, financially stable female, both of which disregard the majority of the working class population that is in need of chiropractic services.

Along with the working force, children can also benefit from regular chiropractic adjustments. Poor postural habits, usually developed as a child, can lead to long-term musculoskeletal conditions. If parents have limited access to chiropractic care, chances are, so do their children.

Why has this taken so long?

Although the new health care act will help millions more people access health care they could not previously obtain financially, why has it taken this long to allow medical care to lower income individuals? Chiropractic care typically costs less and is more effective than taking prescription medications, surgery and emergency room visits. The latest chiropractic research proves that it can reduce musculoskeletal symptoms, yet millions do not have access to this natural pain relief option. “Patients suffering nonspecific work-related LBP who received health services mostly or only from a chiropractor had a lower risk of recurrent disability than the risk of any other provider type. Chiropractor services generally cost less than services from other providers” (Cifuentes, 2011).

Community outreach

Healthcare companies, like Planned Parenthood, offer a sliding scale payment system to allow patients of all financial statuses to receive the care they need and deserve. With the lower overhead cost of running a chiropractic office, there is no reason why chiropractors cannot offer similar options. Workers that do receive chiropractic care for common injuries can help to eliminate pain, minimize the chronicity of their problem and long-term disability, improve work performance, lead to less sick days away from the job, boost their immunity and have an improved quality of life! Workers that have their pain managed by chiropractic care are overall much healthier and have an increased work performance, which benefits both worker and employer.

Sources for this article include:

About the author:
Dr. Brian Broskoskie is a chiropractor at Results Chiropractic Center in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. He is a graduate of Sherman College. Follow him on Twitter and be sure to LIKE his Facebook Fan page for daily health, exercise, nutrition, wellness, chiropractic tips and much much more!

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