"Basic health benefits should include coverage for any licensed health care professional, such as naturopaths, acupuncturists and chiropractors, as long as they are certified and licensed by the state and by their profession."
Just two months ago (September 2007), the Gilmore Research Group released its findings from a survey of Iowa voters.1 The telephone survey sampled registered voters' opinions from around the state.
The topic of the survey was "Iowa Health Care Issues." The purpose of the survey was "to obtain their opinions regarding health care in the United States." When asked about the above statement, approximately two-thirds (68 percent) of the registered voters agreed. Only 11 percent disagreed, with 19 percent remaining neutral.
This current attitude reflects the continued growth of the importance of chiropractic in the minds of the public. In the minds of two-thirds of the Iowa public, chiropractic isn't "alternative," nor is it "complementary." In the minds of the voters/patients, chiropractic is a "basic health benefit."
At this point you may be thinking "OK, but how does this affect me and my practice?" Good question. The answer is that the opinion your patients and the public have about the necessity and importance of chiropractic care is a major determinant in defining your relationship with your patients and with your community. There is a difference in how you communicate and what you expect, based upon the relationship you have. Consider these statements:
- As a "basic health benefit," chiropractic is considered just as important and valuable as medicine.
- In the context of this statement, your license is considered just as valid as the license of any other health care provider.
- This opinion demonstrates a level of expectation equal to all other licensed health care professions.
- Your educated opinion holds just as much weight in the eyes of the voters who want to ensure that you are part of the basic benefit health care team.
To use a sports analogy, the public is like the football coach who moves chiropractic from the second string to the starting lineup. This means that you can interact with your patients, the public and other health care providers with a sense of security in knowing that most of them (finally) understand the importance of the knowledge and expertise you hold. You can speak more authoritatively and expect your opinion to be appreciated. You can hold a different, or even conflicting, opinion and still expect it to be recognized as valid.
In addition, this survey sends a political message. According to its Web site, "CodeBlueNow! is a national, nonpartisan, grassroots, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to giving the public a voice in shaping a new health care system." Their goal is to make the public and the political candidates aware of our country's health care needs.
No doubt, there will be additional surveys that reflect this same concern for chiropractic to be established as a basic health benefit. Chiropractic's place in the health care arena will continue to grow over the next year as the politicians begin to better appreciate what the public wants. We can expect to have more exposure as the 2008 elections draw closer.
- Iowa Health Care Issues Survey Results, conducted by The Gilmore Research Group. September 2007. www.codebluenow.org/UserFiles/File/CodeBlueNow %20Report%20 SUMMARY%2010-02-07.pdf.
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