Prospective Chiropractic Student Has Questions

By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

Questions about functions on the Planet Chiropractic website and concerns regarding the future of healthcare reimbursement in the United States, something I received via e-mail and I thought would be good to share on the site. A visitor writes… “I found your site via Google. First, To bring to your attention, there is a problem with your site when I click on “chiropractic schools”. When I click on it, a FATAL ERROR screen appears. I’ve attempted to click on that link on numerous computers and have gotten the same FATAL ERROR screen numerous times. So I’m thinking the problem may be on your end.”

OK, so the first one is not a question but more a heads up for us. I actually appreciate when people take the time to send e-mails like this, because even if it’s something happening on their computer alone (in this case it wasn’t), someone can look into it and we can work on a solution and/or improvement. Thanks to those that take the time to keep us updated on what the user experience is like on their end, it is appreciated. Let’s move on to the real question…

Spinal Bones and Nerves(photo: plastic lumbar vertebrae model in chiropractic office)

“Secondly, is my question. I have visited numerous chiro schools, applied to them all and have been accepted to all. I say this because I want you to understand my passion for the profession. But I’m scared shitless about Obama wanting to overhaul healthcare. My question is: Do you know where Chiropractic stands within his healthcare reform?

I do know the ACA (American Chiropractic Association) is lobbying hard to Congress. For what? I’m not sure but my guess is to be treated fairly and be accounted and part of the new health care. That’s a scary thing because if Obama was thinking of our profession, the ACA wouldn’t be lobbying for it. Plus, we have Government run healthcare in Medicare and Medicaid, so, I have to base my predictions on Medicare payments. Medicare does NOT cover Chiropractic Initial exams, Reexmams, Xrays, Extremity Adjustments. They just cover Spinal adjustment and pay on avg. about $29 a visit; which here in NJ, Medicare only allows 12 visits per year.

I have three hourly jobs, PLUS my own Massage buisness which seems to be doing well. I’m TERRIFIED of giving up this steady pay (in an economy like todays) plus my Massage buisness to go over $100,000 in debt in Obama’s new healthcare reform will shun our profession. Do you have ANY info there that could help calm me down? Thank you SO MUCH for your time and consideration!”

First, congratulations on acceptance to numerous chiropractic schools, if you choose to continue forward in getting chiropractic education, choose the college that is going to best fit your needs and goals.

I’m not sure you’ll like my answer but I’ll share what’s been going on for me personally and what I’ve experienced during the past near 15 years. When I graduated in the 1990s I remember many people telling me I was getting into chiropractic at the wrong time. The gravy train was over, insurance reimbursement had all but dried up, there was just no point in making a career move to chiropractic. Fortunately for me, very early on while in chiropractic school, I met quite a few “whacked out” practitioners in the field that didn’t seem the least bit concerned with what was going on “outside” their offices. I remember chiropractor Ian Grassam saying something about the lunatics that actually change society. That doesn’t necessarily put money in the bank, but for me personally, I tapped into a motivating factor that had me believing a good chiropractor would be successful independent of any reliance on third party reimbursement. That is the headspace side of it.

On the side of organizations lobbying for a place at the table and healthcare reimbursement, I don’t think anything either of the two national chiropractic organizations are doing is concerning (at least to me). I think it’s a positive thing they are making their presence known, on behalf of chiropractors, and the millions of Americans chiropractors serve. People in the United States deserve to have chiropractic healthcare as an option, and organized lobbying efforts are probably the best way to go about securing those options. That’s really a topic outside of my area of expertise though, and I’ll be happy to post expert opinions from anyone involved in lobbying on behalf of chiropractic in healthcare reform, should they contact me.

So it may sound really unrealistic when I say you’ve got to find out whether chiropractic is right for you, for your reasons, and then go from there. There is no questioning people fail in chiropractic, and create lots of debt in the process, but that’s very much the nature of starting up and running a small business. Over the years, I’ve met many chiropractors on both sides of the proverbial fence, and regardless of practice location or technique, I’ve seen them fail and flourish. What makes them tic is the thing that fascinates me most.

Read some old archives featuring chiropractors like Rick Wren, Sharon Gorman and Ian Grassam and see if something clicks or draws your attention. Also, do some research on chiropractors in your state, and make the effort to visit offices when you can.

It’s perfectly normal to be concerned about the future of reimbursement and I think it’s great you’re asking those questions. I don’t want to suggest you should just be passionate and everything else will take care of itself, but it’s my opinion it should be one of your top considerations (sounds like you already have that part answered though).

I appreciate you bringing the error to our attention and I hope I at least gave you something of value towards helping you make a decision.

If anyone else cares to chime in on this topic feel free to contact me. Click on the yellow envelope above for an e-mail address. @ 1:39 pm | Article ID: 1250109583