TRAVERSE CITY — Insurance providers used to be the biggest source of chiropractor Rick Murphy’s headaches, but he found a way to fix the problem.
“I will never again get a phone call from an insurance company that says ‘so-and-so can’t get benefits’ or ‘we don’t think they need the care,’” Murphy said.
Here’s why: Murphy operates his business, Traverse City Chiropractic Life Center, with a “box on the wall” payment method. He did away with regular fees in September 2013 and now asks those who seek his care to pay whatever they can.
“Now everybody can afford it, and we’re just having a ball,” Murphy said. “The practice has almost tripled in size and we’re looking to do that again.”
The “box on the wall” idea came from other chiropractors who successfully tried the same approach.
“I kind of lacked the faith to take the step, to trust people to take care of me,” he said. “Finally, I said ‘you know what? I’m going to do this’.”
The Traverse City Chiropractic Life Center now sees three times the traffic and collects the same amount of money it brought in before switching payment methods.
“I’d rather see 40 people a day and be paid $25 per visit than see 25 people a day and be paid $40 per visit,” Murphy said.
The local chiropractic industry has grown over time, anecdotally, at least.
Kristine Dowell, executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiropractors, said more patients seek chiropractic care as it becomes more mainstream and is covered by insurance. The industry grows when those patients see good results.
“You’re seeing more and more people, we are anyway, who are looking to chiropractors to help them in a conservative, non-invasive way,” she said.
Chiropractor Bob Gaston, owner of Gaston Family Chiropractic, said his business continues to steadily grow. He gets more referrals from medical doctors now than when he opened the practice 20 years ago.