Friday, February 6, 2009

What Is Universal Health Care? What Will Be Its Affect on Chiropractic?

Universal health care is health care coverage, which is extended to all eligible residents of a governmental region. These programs vary widely in their structure and funding mechanisms, particularly the degree to which they are publicly funded. Typically, most health care costs are met by the population via compulsory health insurance or taxation, or a combination of both. The US is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not provide universal health care, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and others. Universal health care is provided in most developed countries, in many developing countries, and is the trend worldwide.

Universal Health Care was a big debate with the 2008 elections and will continue to be a big debate in the coming years. We seem to be a nation very divided on the subject and everyone has their own opinions on whether it will be a help or a hindrance. Here is a look at both sides of the issue at balancedpolitics.org. Take a look a decide for yourself. As far as chiropractic care being covered under Universal Health Care in United States no one knows yet, but many senators and representatives and promised to make sure it will be included.

Let’s take a look at what happened to chiropractic in Ontario and see if this is what will happen in the U.S. or to see if we can learn anything to make sure it doesn’t happen in the U.S.
On May 18, 2004, the provincial government of Ontario, Canada, announced its intention to delist chiropractic services from the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), the province’s health care plan, effective Dec. 1, 2004. And despite the heroic efforts of the Ontario Chiropractic Association (OCA) and other organizations, the government remained steadfast in its decision, bringing an end to more than 30 years of public funding for chiropractic services in Ontario.

The government announced that along with chiropractic care, optometry examinations and physiotherapy would be also delisted from OHIP, in an effort to help balance the province’s budget deficit. Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara, who termed chiropractic a “less critical” service in a May press conference defended the cuts by saying that they would add up to more than $200 million in savings over the next two years and free up money for other procedures.
The decision by the legislature to delist chiropractic flew in the face of previous evidence that suggested coverage of chiropractic care could reduce overall health care costs. A 1993 study funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health, for example, found that enhanced OHIP coverage of chiropractic treatment could save Canada’s health care system an estimated $380 million a year in direct costs, and up to $1.2 billion per year in indirect costs attributed to short and long-term disability.

Massachusetts’ lawmakers made history in April 2006, becoming the first state to approve legislation that will require all residents to have some form of health insurance coverage by July 2007. Signed into law by Governor Mitt Romney on April 12, 2006 the plan forges a unique compromise between government assistance and personal responsibility, with the cost to individuals and families based on income. The legislation is expected to drive down the cost of insurance for everyone, as public funds are redirected to more effectively cover the state’s 515,000 uninsured. Since the implementation of this type of Universal Health Care coverage is still fairly recent, no one has been able to say what the long-term affect for the chiropractic profession will be.

Barack Obama’s Universal Health Care plan would include chiropractic coverage and he has said that chiropractors would play a significant role in expanding access to preventative care and strengthening our public health system.

For the sake of the 60,000 chiropractors and the 60 million chiropractic patients, lets all do are best to make sure that chiropractic is included in any type of U.S. health care system.