Why Won’t Insurance Cover All Conditions Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treats?
If I had a penny for every time someone asked me that question, I could paper the sky in gold leaf! The simple answer as to why insurance covers hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for some patients and not others is that the FDA only officially approves 14 specific conditions for HBOT. And most insurance companies will not cover hyperbaric oxygen for off-label conditions without more research and FDA-approval. Unfortunately, that’s not an easy fix.
What If My Illness Isn’t on the FDA-Approved List?
We have a drawer full of testimonials from patients who successfully recovered and ended their pain after having HBOT treatments here at our center in Palm Harbor, Florida. And these patients suffered from conditions other than those the FDA officially approves HBOT for. But hyperbaric oxygen therapy effectively treats many other illnesses and injuries. And we have solid and promising research on our website that shows this to be true. The FDA does acknowledge and allows licensed healthcare institutions to use HBOT for off-label conditions. Our licensed facility has helped people with just some of the following conditions.
Wondering if HBOT can bring you lasting relief from your symptoms? To schedule a pain assessment at our Palm Harbor, Florida, Center, click HERE now or call 727-787-7077.
FDA-Approved and Off-Label Uses for HBOT
If you come to our center for any of the conditions listed directly below, Medicare and other insurers generally will cover your treatment:
Acute Hearing Loss – the unexplained, rapid loss of hearing
Air or Gas Embolism – caused when air or gas bubbles enter the arteries during diving or when an invasive medical procedure punctures a lung or artery
Arterial Insufficiencies – including non-healing diabetic foot wounds or central retinal artery occlusion (eye strokes)
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Compromised Skin Grafts and Flaps – when reconstructive surgeries fail due to complications related to the blood supply to the skin graft or flap
Crush Injury that causes an acute loss of blood flow
Decompression Sickness – suffered by divers who ascend to sea level too quickly
Delayed Radiation Injury – necrotic wounds in soft tissue and bone that occur long after radiation treatments
Gas Gangrene – severe muscle infections known as clostridial myositis and myonecrosis
Intracranial Abscess – infections of the brain, especially in patients with compromised immune systems
Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections – severe infections that progress rapidly from flesh-eating bacteria
Osteomyelitis – Trauma induced chronic bone infections that resist conventional treatments
Severe Anemia – acute blood loss that occurs from combat wounds or severe trauma
Thermal Burn Injury – Deep burns from fire, steam or hot objects
But here are other off-label conditions that improve when patients get Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) These occur most frequently in returning combat veterans. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the IsraelDefense Forces (IDF) take very different positions regarding the effectiveness of HBOT. The DoD refuses to acknowledge the therapy’s effectiveness, in spite of the many veterans who say it has helped them much more than narcotics and psychiatric meds. The DoD claims that they can only prescribe hyperbaric oxygen treatment once the FDA has approved its use for PTSD and TBI. But the Israel Defense Forces routinely use HBOT to treat personnel for traumatic stress. In fact, around 120 patients get treatment at The Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research in Israel daily!
Besides these combat-related injuries, at our center we have successfully treated the following conditions with HBOT, sometimes in combination with other medical therapies:
Broken or Fractured Bones, Cerebral Palsy, Lyme Disease, Macular Degeneration, Migraine Headaches, Multiple Sclerosis, Near Drowning, Peripheral Nerve Regeneration, Post-Polio Syndrome, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Stroke, and other nerve-related disorders.
Why Conditions Aren’t Yet Approved for HBOT and Covered By Insurance
Injured and sick bodies need oxygen to heal. But breathing in normal room air does not provide nearly enough oxygen to help very ill patients. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy super-saturates blood and tissues with pure O2, in order to bring vital nutrients to areas that need healing. But with so many conditions that hyperbaric oxygen therapy effectively treats, why would the FDA not approve the therapy’s wider use so that insurance companies could provide coverage? Well, here’s the scoop…
Drugs are more profitable for the FDA. Pharmaceutical companies say they must spend around $1 billion per drug in order to get the FDA’s approval. And getting these medications through the approvals process is what pays the agency’s bills and salaries. To make matters worse, many times members of Congress leave their congressional posts to work in advisement positions for pharmaceutical companies. As you can imagine, that creates enormous conflicts of interest when prioritizing which treatments the FDA will approve.
Patents on Hyperbaric Chambers ran out long ago. This makes bringing the therapy back for off-label uses difficult, if not virtually impossible. The FDA warns patients not to have HBOT for unapproved uses, but the agency fails to disclose that no matter how many hyperbaric oxygen research studies validate the therapy’s success, they will likely never approve its use for other conditions.
I Will Continue the Fight!
Like many other doctors and researchers, I continue to beg government agencies to fund more hyperbaric oxygen research for off-label conditions. After 14 years of successfully treating numerous conditions with HBOT, I know just how effective it is for healing. As long as the FDA won’t approve other uses for HBOT, insurers will have the excuse not to cover them. It’s as simple as that.
Here at the National Hyperbaric, we know that illnesses often make it difficult for patients to remain employed. That’s why when insurance companies won’t cover your condition, we do everything we can to help make treatments affordable. For more information on all the conditions we currently treat, visit HERE.