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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

State Chiropractic Claims

August 23, 2003

Re "Chiropractic Claims Pain California Employers," Aug. 17: I have seen many chiropractors throughout my adult years. Only one ever told me the truth: that if I didn't exercise regularly and rigorously, I would be coming back again and again. This turned out to be the real answer to my occasional but very painful neck and back problems. The times that I had to go back for adjustments were usually during periods in which I had done little or no physical exercise.

The point is that our sedentary lifestyles, with all our modern conveniences, have made us dependent on practitioners who offer quick but only temporary relief. Ultimately, the problem is not the chiropractor. It's our own laziness. Unfortunately, by paying for all of a patient's treatments, the state encourages this cycle of dependency.

Robert McVerry

Laguna Hills

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Maybe state Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) ought to visit a couple of orthopedic doctors before she sticks her nose into limiting chiropractic care. Medicare just paid my chiropractor a measly 29 bucks for a visit. Anybody been to any kind of doctor who will treat anything for that fee?

I've had two visits in the last eight months. I never have to wonder if I can get in for an appointment. If I'm in pain, the question is, "When do you want to come in?" And more visits are based on how I feel, not on how many visits the doctor wants to sell me. Because I used chiropractic care, I spent a fraction of what my co-workers spent for medical care and seldom had to miss work. Some co-workers were on disability for weeks at a time.

Patients who are in the "reward-for-pain syndrome" are the abusers of medical insurance and workers' compensation. They keep getting paid for having pain, so they don't want to get well. I've known people who are on disability for carpal tunnel who go out and play golf. Patients milking the system and quacks who give chiropractic a bad name need to be weeded out and punished. Leave those of us who want to get well the quickest, at the least possible cost, alone. Oh, and by the way, my chiropractor's office is clean, but it isn't plush. Nor have I seen a Mercedes sitting outside.

Helen Freeman

Anaheim

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Two years ago, it was determined that my severe tendinitis was work-related. I was sent to my company's doctor, who told me I should forget about my career and file for permanent disability. I went to a company orthopedic surgeon, who wanted to perform spinal surgery on me to the tune of $50,000. Forget it!

I eventually went to my chiropractor (at the company's expense), who completely alleviated my condition in five months. Yes, it involved quite a few visits (three per week), and I have no idea how much he charged for his services. But I do know that whatever his fee, it was a mere fraction of what the company's own physicians would have cost. And his methods worked, which is the important thing

Marie Cain

Glendale

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There is undoubtedly something wrong with California's workers' compensation system when our costs are twice those in neighboring states. But if your numbers are correct, they fail to identify the culprit. The $235 million spent for chiropractic is less than 6% of the $4.1-billion total. If chiropractic expenses were eliminated, expenses would drop from $4.1 billion to about $3.9 billion, not even a drop in the proverbial bucket. The average amount paid by workers' compensation to each chiropractor is about $16,000. Obviously, the cause of the problem is something else. Your article diverts attention from whatever that might be and unfairly places the blame on a convenient target.

Michael Steiniger

Sherman Oaks

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