DESIGN: An analysis of enrollment data from a managed care health plan over a 4-year period was conducted. Employers could select the managed care plan with or without a chiropractic care benefit. Comparisons of demographic and comorbid characteristics were made between employees who had the chiropractic benefit and those who did not, and between individuals who self-selected chiropractic care and those who self-selected medical care.
RESULTS: The cohort with chiropractic coverage was younger with fewer subjects in the older age group (>65 years; 6.5% vs 9.6%) and more subjects in the younger age group (0-17 years; 31.9% vs 26.2%). The mean age of the group with coverage was 32.9 compared with 35.5 in the group without coverage. Comparing self-selected chiropractic patients to self-selected medical patients, there were fewer subjects older than 65 years in the chiropractic group (4.9% vs 9.2%) and fewer subjects aged 0 to 17 years (9.4% vs 19.4%). In 6 of the 8 comorbid conditions studied, the rates were lower in the cohort with chiropractic coverage compared with the group without coverage. The rates of comorbid conditions in self-selected chiropractic patients were lower in all 8 categories compared with self-selected medical patients.
CONCLUSION: The inclusion of a chiropractic benefit in a health plan produces a modest favorable selection processes resulting in a slightly younger patient population with fewer comorbidities. At the level of patient self-selection, chiropractic patients are considerably younger and healthier than comparable medical patients.
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