The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health Plan,(UPMCHC), an insurance plan covering 15 counties in western Pennsylvania has adopted landmark guidelines for the management of low back pain. As of January 1, 2012, candidates for spine surgery must first complete and fail a 3 month course of conservative care consisting of chiropractic manipulation and associated therapies. It is the first reported implementation of such a policy by a health care plan. According to a 2011 UPMC Health Plan Physician Partner Update, “We feel strongly that this clinical initiative will improve the quality of care for members who are considering low back surgery and will facilitate their involvement in the decision making process.” UPMC recognizes that chiropractic care is appropriate and consistent with good medical practice.
Chiropractic care restores normal spinal function and reduces pain which often times eliminates the necessity of low back surgery. Perhaps more insurance companies will adopt these guidelines in the future and not just because it benefits their bottom line but also because it benefits the patient as well. We commend UPMCHC.