Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) upheld the controversial Health Care Reform Act, also known as Obamacare. By replacing the word “penalty” to “tax”, now all Americans are compelled to have governmental-run health insurance or risk fines and IRS investigation.
So now the government will be ultimately in charge of all American’s health records and will be in charge of deciding what level of treatment people should receive, how much treatment they should receive and how much the doctors should be paid.
I will let the reader draw their own conclusions as to how this is going to turn out.
But the looming question for many health minded people will be “How will alternative healthcare providers such as chiropractors and acupuncturists fit in with Obamacare?”
I will provide the quick answer first: ”NO ONE KNOWS FOR SURE!!!“.
There are two possible paths:
1. Obamacare will not include alternative treatments like chiropractic and so people will have to pay out of pocket to see chiropractors unless they get into car accidents or have work-related injuries (which will be covered out of the scope of Obamacare) or if the patient is covered by an exempted insurance plan (Obama exempted many plans already). This path is similar to how things are now, and chiropractic and other alternative health care fields will be considered more luxury-based health care avenues of approach.
2. Obamacare will include alternative care providers and will manage them just like medical doctors and include them as some level of primary health care providers (which chiropractors are considered now, but more people will be made aware of this fact). This may sound good for many, but inclusion in Obamacare has some real downsides too. What I do know is that current government run health care plans (such as medicare and medicaid) tend to be paperwork intensive and the payment reimbursements tend to be the lowest of all healthcare plans. What this means is that in order to stay profitable, a chiropractor will have to see a lot more patients in a given day and this means that they cannot spend a lot of time with their patients.
First I want to address the reduced time factor. Not that an adjustment takes a long time to perform, but many chiropractic patients like the extra time chiropractors tend to spend with their patients as compared to medical doctors. In addition, there will be tighter restrictions and limitations on what will be allowed and therefore reimbursed (as will be for the medical doctors). So a neck pain will only be allowed 5 visits whether the condition is resolved or not (I just made up the number 5. In reality it might be more or less, but the point is that the doctor does not determine the number of visits).
Next I want to address the paperwork factor. In general, people do not like paperwork. They even like it less when they don’t get paid to do it. This makes for unhappy doctors. They have less free time. They have to buy special software that sends your records to the government for review. They have to hire additional staff to help. Doctors that make less money and work longer tend to be unhappy doctors. Unhappy doctors tend to not like what they are doing and as a result their abilities will consciously or subconsciously affected. As a result, the patient may not get good service. This is true for all doctors regardless of what field they work in. Doctors go through a lot of schooling and have large bills to pay. It would only make sense that they would like to see the fruits of their labors in some palpable way. It seems that Obamacare will take away the joy of practicing to greater or lesser extents. It is too early to know just how much.
I hope that the net result is that the profession does not get taken over by a bunch of stooges.
Only time will tell which path the chiropractic profession will fall in and how good or bad Obamacare will be to chiropractors and their patients.