Veteran Access to Chiropractic CareAround 65% of U.S. veterans and active service members suffer from chronic pain—more than half report musculoskeletal system issues in the back, neck, shoulders, or knees. While studies show that military veterans need, and can benefit from, chiropractic care, many live with their chronic pain because of the perceived out-of-pocket cost of such medical treatments. Most veterans are not aware that their insurance coverage under the Veteran’s Administration (VA) program does include access to chiropractic care.
Routinely, active-duty infantry soldiers carry on their backs 100–150 lbs. (e.g., body armor, ammunition, food, water) in difficult conditions like hiking for many miles. Carrying this kind of weight for extended periods of time, over repeated tours of duty, contributes highly to musculoskeletal injuries among active-duty and retired personnel.
In fact, musculoskeletal and connective tissue injuries were the leading cause for medical leave during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, with only 13% returning to active duty after treatment. Moreover, traumatic brain injury, opioid abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often occur alongside untreated chronic pain in active-duty personnel and veterans.
Research shows that when veterans receive chiropractic care for chronic pain, the likelihood of them needing more invasive (and more expensive) treatments or potentially addictive prescription pain medications goes down significantly.
As such, the VA has expanded non pharmacological treatments available to veterans by providing access to chiropractic services. From 2005–2015 the number of on-station chiropractic clinics increased nearly 150%, and the number of veterans receiving chiropractic care increased more than 800%.
Despite this substantial increase of availability and use of VA chiropractic care in the past two decades, many veterans still do not seek out the services, so chiropractic use remains low compared to other U.S. populations.
“Veteran use of chiropractic care through the VA program is very low,” notes Dr. Rick Gross of Quality Care Chiropractic, “which I suspect is because many don’t know about these benefits and don’t ask about it during their VA appointments.”
The military’s health insurance, Tri-Care, does not have chiropractic benefits; however, if a veteran goes to their VA doctor and requests chiropractic care, it can be fully covered with a referral under their Community Care program.
The VA officially recognizes the benefits of chiropractic care for veterans, so the services have been part of the standard medical benefits package available to all eligible members as on-station or community care services since 2004.
Community Care is used when the VA authorizes health care for veterans from providers in the local community outside the VA. Based on certain conditions and eligibility as well as a veteran’s specific needs and circumstances, they can receive care from a community provider when the VA cannot provide the care needed.
To receive this outside healthcare specialty, veterans need authorization and a referral from their primary care physician, but that is increasingly the case of most insurance providers. As with the nonservice-connected care provided directly by the VA, veterans are charged the same copayment.
“We have great success delivering safe, comfortable, and effective treatments to our veterans,” relates Dr. Gross. “We encourage all the veterans we meet to take advantage of the Community Care program.”
If you or anyone you know is a Veteran who could benefit from chiropractic care, please contact Quality Care Chiropractic in Aurora, IL, at (630) 499-2225 or your local VA for answers to your questions and the specific steps you need to take to make sure you are getting the care you deserve to get back to whole-body health.Schedule an Appointment