Chiropractic patients in Arizona are being denied benefits and chiropractors are being forced out of business because a law designed to hold the insurance industry accountable is not being enforced.
In 2011, insurance companies, led by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, greatly increased co-pays for chiropractic patients while at the same time reducing reimbursements for chiropractors.
For example, the patient co-pay under Blue Cross is now $40. Blue Cross reimburses chiropractors $4. This policy has delivered a one-two punch to our profession. In addition, Blue Cross is only covering six to seven visits a year per patient.
Customers who thought they were covered for chiropractic care are learning the hard way that their benefits have declined.
Chiropractors are leaving Arizona because they cannot afford to stay in business — 130 have left statewide and 115 have closed in the Phoenix area. The Flagstaff area, which only had a handful of chiropractors to begin with, has lost eight offices.
Dr. Mike Miller had a thriving practice in Arizona, but was forced to relocate. He is now serving patients in Australia.
Dr. Kenneth Torrens ran Torrens Family Chiropractic in Casa Grande. He recently moved to Illinois after his revenue was cut in half because of this insurance crisis.
Patients who suffer back pain and don’t want to take addictive painkillers or have expensive and largely useless spinal injections or undergo risky surgery will have few options if this trend continues.
What Blue Cross is doing is not only bad for its customers, it’s also illegal in Arizona. But the law that was designed to protect patients is not being enforced. The Chiropractic Insurance Equity Law, ARS 20-461(A)17 and B, requires coverage of all medically necessary chiropractic care, not just the six or seven visits allowed by Blue Cross.
Arizona Department of Insurance Director Christina Urias refuses to enforce this law. She claims she has no duty to take enforcement action against insurance companies over this abdication of their responsibilities. We believe Urias is abdicating her responsibilities with her refusal to enforce this law. She is not only putting small business chiropractors out of business, but she is causing financial and medical hardships for those who rely on chiropractic care.
Gov. Jan Brewer surely understands the value of this profession. She hopefully understands the value of all the jobs being lost. We are imploring the governor to fire Urias, and appoint someone who will stand up to the insurance industry and stand up for patients’ rights.
— Dr. Alan M. Immerman, D.C., is president and executive director of the Arizona Chiropractic Society.