A January 2016 report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics showed that even though insurance affects how people purchase healthcare, more people than ever are choosing to pay for their chiropractic care. The report was based upon the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) taken in the years 2002 and 2012.
The study reported on usage for what the researchers termed as “complementary health approaches” which included acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic. They checked the usage of these three services specifically in the years 2002 and 2012. Researchers also looked to see if those surveyed had insurance that covered those services, and if insurance coverage affected the amount of usage of those services.
The results showed that there was increased utilization in all three services from 2002 compared to ten years later in 2012. The rates of utilization in 2002 were: acupuncture – 1.1%, massage – 5.0%, and chiropractic – 7.5%. These figures all increased ten years later to: acupuncture – 1.5%, massage – 6.9%, and chiropractic – 8.3%.
When examining who had insurance coverage, it was noted that the group with insurance coverage did not show an increase in utilization, while those without insurance, who would have to pay for their care, showed a statistically significant increase in utilization. This means that having insurance did not cause more people to seek out these three services. The study stated, “Although increases were observed in the percentage of adults who saw a practitioner for acupuncture, chiropractic, or massage therapy and did not have health insurance coverage for these visits, no changes were observed among those who saw a practitioner and had coverage for these complementary health approaches.”
For chiropractic, the study noted that 18.7% of those who sought those services had full insurance coverage. Partial coverage for chiropractic made up 41.4% of those who went to the chiropractor, while 39.9% had no chiropractic insurance coverage at all. Both acupuncture and massage had considerably less insurance coverage than chiropractic.
In their summary the authors of the CDC study noted, “Increased use of acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage therapy between 2002 and 2012 was previously noted. There was a significant increase in the percentage of adults who saw a practitioner for acupuncture, chiropractic, or massage therapy but did not have health insurance coverage for these approaches. No change in use was observed among those with insurance coverage. These data suggest that consumers are increasingly willing to pay out-of-pocket for the use of acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage.”