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Chiropractic in Canada

(Optimistic View)

  • Alternative medicine has become entrenched in our society. Visits to alternative providers in the U.S. for 1997 skyrocketed past the number of visits to primary care medical doctors. Over 628 million visits compared to 386 million visits (JAMA, 1997).
  • Seventy per cent (70 %) of Canadians feel that provincial health care plans should cover the costs of alternative medicines and practices (CTV/Angus Reid Group Poll).
  • Fifty-four per cent (54 %) of Canadians used one or more alternative therapies in the previous six months (Canada Health Monitor).
  • Study after study reveals that chiropractic treatment is an effective and economical form of health care (Manga, AHCPR, Rand, British Medical, New Zealand, etc).
  • Action 25. A major initiative has been developed by the Canadian Chiropractic Association to increase the chiropractic utilization rate. The plan will use the combined resources of the CCA, the provincial associations, and educational institutions to double the utilization rate of chiropractic from the present 12.5 % to 25 % over the next ten years. As previously stated, chiropractic utilization has remained steady nationwide at around 10 - 13 % level for the past ten years. The CCA believes this has occurred because no one has ever set a target and striven for it.

(Pessimistic View)

  • The current number of chiropractors in 1999, is 5000. Estimated for 2001 is 6720, and for 2006 is 8830 (based on current and future enrollments at chiropractic colleges). This converts to a 25 % annual increase from 1999 or an overall increase of 77 % from 1999 to 2006. As you can clearly see, although current chiropractors find it very competitive today, the profession will become significantly more competitive in the next six years. This means that when you start deciding on your future as a practicing chiropractor you had better research it thoroughly and seek professional advice in order to minimize any costly mistakes.
  • The current chiropractor to population ratio is 1: 6000, estimated for 2001 is 1:4700 and in 2006 1: 3700 (Figure 13 & 14, OIC). This shows the enormous discrepancy between the growth of chiropractors and the population growth over the next six years.
  • Based on the current chiropractic utilization rate of 12.5 %, the average number of annual patient visits per chiropractor (1996) was 7400. Estimates using the same utilization rate are for 5450 visits in 2001 and 3900 visits in 2006. If the utilization rate were to be unchanged the average chiropractors gross income would be reduced from $145,500 to $77,000.
  • Chiropractic utilization rates have remained stagnant over the last ten years between 10 and 13 %.
  • Percentage of utilization rates required to maintain current annual number of patient visits (7400) in 2001 is 18.5 % and in 2006 is 23.5 %.
  • Summary. The trends reveal that the rate of D.C. growth is much greater than rate of chiropractic utilization. Therefore, it appears that despite Action 25 attempts, good research studies, and a greater utilization of alternative health care providers, the chiropractic profession will become increasingly more competitive for patients. New graduates with their enormous student loans (average $80,000), will find practice revenues decreasing and expenses increasing. It will be very important for new grads to seek professional advice, learn, research and investigate all opportunities thoroughly in order make a good choice and avoid previous wasteful spending.

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