Primary care provider and chiropractor Dr. Scott Zack, from Michigan, explores possible updated TRICARE program coverage terms currently understood to be in the pipeline.
With officials for the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force Defense Health Agency understood to be preparing to unveil new coverage terms for TRICARE, potentially including chiropractic treatment and acupuncture, in coming months, Dr. Scott Zack, an experienced chiropractor from Michigan, provides a closer look at the news and what it means for military personnel, military retirees, and their dependents.
“New TRICARE coverage terms are expected to be proposed early next year,” reveals Dr. Zack, a chiropractor and primary care provider from the Oakland County charter township of West Bloomfield, Michigan, “according to news from Military.com, the largest online military and veteran membership organization in the world with more than 10 million members.”
TRICARE, previously known as CHAMPUS, or the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services, is a health care program and part of the United States Department of Defense Military Health System. The program provides civilian health benefits for U.S Armed Forces military personnel and their dependents, including some members of the Reserve Component, as well as military retirees and their respective dependents.
The Defense Health Agency, Dr. Zack goes on to explain, has offered a comment period for the planned coverage terms change proposal. “The full extent of the planned changes remains unknown,” says the primary care provider, “although it’s understood that the new coverage terms for TRICARE will include chiropractic treatment and acupuncture.”
There may, however, Dr. Scott Zack suggests, be a number of limitations. “The coverage, it’s thought, may limit new treatment to what Military.com reveals has been outlined as, for example, ‘chiropractic care for certain types of pain,’ or ‘acupuncture for oncologic-related nausea,'” he adds. “The changes,” the chiropractor continues, “again, according to Military.com, must also be ‘proven safe and effective,’ which, of course, is entirely understandable and should have no implication upon chiropractic treatment being included under any new TRICARE coverage terms.”
Reports previously carried out by the online military and veteran membership organization, as well as a Defense Department assessment, have already demonstrated the efficacy of chiropractic care in mitigating lower back pain and, as a result, improving fitness among service members, according to Dr. Scott Zack. “One such report noted that chiropractic treatment could improve ‘key fitness characteristics among active-duty service members with lower back pain and could lead to improved military readiness,'” reveals the Michigan-based chiropractor.
Early estimates suggest that the proposed additional coverage could cost TRICARE as much as $70 million each year. Any finalized estimate or amount would be published via the Federal Register, responsible for documenting government rule changes, well ahead of the updates coming into place.
“As it stands, any changes to coverage terms will likely be in effect by late 2021 or very early 2022,” adds Dr. Scott Zack, wrapping up.