In addition to understanding the chiropractor's spinal manipulation technique, education and overall style, it is a good idea to consider the fees/payment plans and the business setup of the chiropractic clinic, along with several other factors, before selecting a chiropractor.

Chiropractic Clinic Processes and Costs

Questions to ask about the procedures and fees at the chiropractic clinic may include the following:

  • Is the chiropractor in the patient's insurance provider network?
  • What is the policy at the chiropractic clinic for payment of services that are denied by the insurer? Some chiropractic clinics offer cash discounts for insurance-denied services.
  • What is the payment for the initial consultation? Many chiropractors offer an initial consultation free of charge.
  • What are the chiropractor's fees for the initial examination? For the chiropractic adjustment? Fees should be competitive and within the 'usual and customary' range within the local area.
  • What kind of discounts does the chiropractor offer? Most chiropractic clinics offer a reduced fee for cash payments at the time of service or family/volume discounts.
  • Does the clinic offer a guarantee? Some chiropractors will offer a satisfaction guarantee, for example, that you are satisfied with each clinic visit or that visit will be free of charge.
  • How long is the average wait time in the waiting room? As with many medical practices, some have long wait times and some are quite prompt - selecting one with a good fit for you may impact how satisfied you are with the chiropractor.
  • Does the chiropractor provide the recommended treatment plan in writing? Some patients prefer this approach so that they can have all the information at hand to research and think about the recommendations.
  • Does the chiropractor offer a list of professional references? Many chiropractors will provide a list of other healthcare professionals in the area whom they work with - physical therapists, medical doctors, or alternative practitioners, such as acupuncturists, massage therapists, or naturopaths.

Potential Red Flags about Chiropractic Treatment Programs

It is prudent to be alert for chiropractic clinics that rely on certain types of marketing approaches to procure new patients or to encourage them to sign up for long-term treatment. Potential red flags may include:

  • Long-term contracts based on a brief exam. Free spinal exams - such as ones offered through a coupon program or at a shopping mall or health fair - are a common marketing tactic. This approach is fine, unless the patient is encouraged to sign up for a long-term treatment plan prior to a thorough clinical evaluation. Additionally, long-term contracts are unnecessary since the length of an individual's treatment will depend on their response. A treatment trial with re-examination after 4 to 6 weeks is sufficient.
  • Spinal manipulation based solely on posture. If a patient has poor posture but no complaints, a competent chiropractor would discuss ergonomic modifications and/or an exercise and stretching program, possibly with periodic evaluations to determine compliance and exercise benefits. Chiropractic manipulation is not automatically warranted.

The bottom line is that each patient must be individually evaluated. No promises should be made, particularly without a thorough clinical examination.

Finally, patients should beware of any practitioner who asks for a lump sum payment upfront for "extended" or "lifetime" chiropractic care, as this is not in the patient's best interest.