Answers to Questions about Chiropractic:
What Are "Cost Effective Treatment Plans"?

Samuel Homola, D.C.

Question

I have gone to a chiropractic office for evaluation, orientation, etc. Before any mention of money, they insisted that my husband be present to go over my "report of findings" and to discuss "cost-effective treatment plans." This made me very suspicious. Should I be suspicious, or is there a legitimate reason for this approach?

Answer

There is no legitimate reason why a spouse should be present for "report of findings" or a discussion of "cost-effective treatment plans." Such an approach is usually a sales pitch used to indoctrinate both husband and wife into accepting enrollment in a long-term treatment plan. After an initial course of frequent treatment, the frequency of treatment tapers off in a "preventive maintenance" program that typically extends for months and years. A reduction in cost per treatment is offered if a contract is signed and payment is made in advance. A scary, exaggerated, or false report of findings may be used to convince a patient that treatment is essential or life-saving.

You suspicions are justified. Commitment to a long course of chiropractic treatment is a bad idea. Treatment should always be discontinued if symptoms worsen after a few treatments or if symptoms have not improved after two to four weeks of treatment. People who are frightened by such findings as "reversed curves, degeneration, pelvic imbalance, subluxations," and so on, should ask for a copy of their x-rays and have them reviewed by an orthopedist.

Since the situation you describe does not sound legitimate, I suggest that you seek help elsewhere rather than subjecting yourself to the rest of the sales pitch.

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Dr. Homola is a second-generation chiropractor who has dedicated himself to defining the proper limits on chiropractic and to educating consumers and professionals about the field. His 1963 book Bonesetting, Chiropractic, and Cultism supported the appropriate use of spinal manipulation but renounced chiropractic dogma. His 1999 book Inside Chiropractic: A Patient's Guide provides an incisive look at chiropractic's history, benefits, and shortcomings. Now retired after 43 years of practice, he lives in Panama City, Florida.

This article was posted on December 12, 2004.