The properties of stem cells were first described in the 1960s. Since then, scientists have made significant progress in stem cell studies. Nowadays, regenerative medicine, in which stem cells are essential, gives hope to many people suffering from chronic pain, degenerative diseases, cancer, and more.
Stem cell therapy is a novel technique and requires a lot of research to prove its safety and effectiveness. That’s why not every insurance company is ready to reimburse stem cell therapy. Read our article to find out if your insurance covers stem cell therapy.
Stem cell therapy: a non-invasive way to treat diseases
Stem cells are building blocks for different tissues in the human body. They originate either from embryos or from adult tissues. Scientists have discovered that transplanting stem cells to damaged organs boosts natural regeneration. Stem cells can differentiate into different cell types and restore cells in affected areas.
Depending on a stem cell’s origin, its potency differs. Embryonic stem cells are the most potent and can transform into any cell type. Adult stem cells derived from blood, skin, adipose tissue, and bone marrow are less potent and transform into cells of their origin.
However, scientists discovered a way to reprogram adult stem cells into an embryo-like state. Reprogrammed cells are called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). iPS cells can be used as an endless source for creating different cells.
Recent research has shown that stem cells can improve patients’ health with severe and incurable diseases. For example, stem cell therapy is used in combating leukemia to restore damaged blood cells. Ongoing studies investigate the therapeutic effect of stem cells for knees, damaged muscles and joints, Parkinson’s disease, degenerative disk disease, cardiovascular diseases, and more. Among the most valuable benefits of stem cell therapy are:
- reduced the number of surgical operations,
- easy and fast recovery,
- no need for supplement medications,
- no rejection or side effects,
- a potential cure for incurable diseases,
- chronic pain relief.
How much does stem cell therapy cost?
The stem cell therapy costs may range from USD 1,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s an innovative treatment and involves specific procedures carried out by a professional therapist. Besides, laboratory expenses on product preparation, testing, and application influence the price. The therapy procedures include:
- Patient diagnostics including medical history examination, the current state of health, etc.
- Specific tests to check if the stem cell treatment is eligible for the patient.
- Collecting stem cells from a donor or patient.
- Stem cell transplantation.
- Some patients may need a few days of hospital stay.
The type of injury or the disease treated with stem cells also affects the price. For example, stem cell therapy for knees is usually provided with 1 to 3 injections, and no hospital stays, so the cost varies from USD 3,000 to 5,000. Too low a price for stem cell transplantation may be a signal of neglecting safety requirements by a medical facility.
Is stem cell therapy for injured knees covered by insurance?
Nowadays Medicare plans A and B insurance partially cover stem cell therapy. Among covered medications are legally-approved cell-based products for treating blood-related diseases.
Stem cell treatment is considered an experimental procedure by many insurance providers, so they abstain from covering it. The problem is that due to the lack of regulations, stem cell therapy gives rise to speculation. For example, unreliable providers may administer to patients not live stem cells, but amniotic tissue or placenta, while billing them as stem cell therapy.
What’s more, during the operation, surgeons can take bone marrow samples from any place suitable. They inject it into the incision to promote healing, and bill as if it were stem cell therapy. Thus, until researchers prove stem cells’ safety and develop standardized procedures, patients will have to pay the full price for stem cell therapy out of their pockets.
However, some self-directed insurance providers, including Blue Cross Blue Shield Association members, may cover stem cell therapy for some social groups. If you have insurance of a private insurance company, it’s worth checking their rules and conditions concerning stem cell therapy.
Is stem cell therapy right for you?
Although not each insurance covers stem cell therapy, stem cells may bring positive outcomes for patients that live with chronic pain and severe disease, or boost recovery for complicated injuries. The therapy doesn’t have serious contraindications or risk of rejection. If you want to try out all the benefits of stem cell therapy, you should contact a reliable therapy provider. First, your doctor will test your overall health. Then, you’ll need to pass several tests to define if stem cell treatment is beneficial in your case. If you’re the right candidate, your doctor will make an appointment for a stem cell harvesting and transplantation procedure.
If you need more details about stem cell therapy procedures in our clinic, drop us a line, and our professional therapists will give you a detailed consultation.
Dr. Mill has over thirty years of experience working as a thyroid specialist and hormone expert in a US clinic. He is passionate about developing his knowledge and confirming his practice.