More insurance plans and companies are including what they call "complementary healthcare" into their plans. One such agreement comes from PacifiCare signing an agreement with Complementary Healthcare Plans to offer chiropractic and other non-medical types of care to their policy holders.
Consumers also rate plans which include complementary procedures as high in satisfaction levels. Landmark Healthcare services surveyed their members in 1998 and found that 87% gave a positive rating for their chiropractic services. Of these 72% said that they were very, or completely satisfied. More companies such as Landmark are offering chiropractic services as part of their health plans. This movement follows the consumer trends reported in the Harvard Medical School study which showed an increase of over 200 million visits to "alternative" healthcare providers from 1990 to 1997. In the same time frame there was a 2 million visit decrease in visits to medical practitioners.
This confirms that insurance companies are following the lead of consumers who are seeking chiropractic care in record numbers.
Landmark Healthcare, Inc., one of the nations largest HMOs has published two studies on what they termed "alternative care". The first study dealt with the public perception and usage of health care while the second study was a survey of 114 HMO's executives from across the US.
The results of the public survey showed some interesting trends. Of the 1500 people surveyed, 42% said that they had used "alternative care" in the past year. Of the many different things that the study listed under alternative, chiropractic was the number one profession with usage by 16% of the respondents. What was also interesting was the effect using alternatives had on medical care. Although the study did not break down what type alternative care resulted in medical care changes, the results showed that 30% of those using alternative care had a decrease in visits to medical doctors while only 3% had an increase in medical visits. In this study 67% stated that alternative care was important in selecting a health plan. When asked if their opinion has changed about alternative care in the past five years 40% said their opinion had become more positive while only 2% said it was more negative.
In the survey of 114 senior HMO executives, the trends of acceptance and usage continued. According to this survey, two-thirds of all HMOs offered chiropractic care for an average of five to six years. Chiropractic was by more than double the largest "alternative" offered in HMO plans. But what was probably most telling was that a full 43% did not even consider chiropractic as an alternative, viewing it rather as a non-medical main stream form of health care.