Low back pain (LBP), a common illness that may progress to chronic disability, costs many billions for care, lost work, and compensation. Conventional medicine does not effectively restore chronic LBP patients to work; multidisciplinary rehabilitation does, but limited or delayed access risks unnecessary costs, additional morbidity, and permanent disability. The authors examine costs of delayed treatment for 23 disabled LBP patients in a rehabilitation program. Compensation costs average $26,159 per patient, a sum covering treatment for 3 patients. Additional medical and societal costs are estimated. Factors causing delay, such as economic incentives and ignorance about pain, and policies to remediate these problems, are discussed.