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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Therapies & Alternative Treatments > Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treatment

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treatment Cost

How Much Does Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treatment Cost?

average costDoctor Visit: $10-$200+high costTreatments: $10-$350+
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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating disorder in which extreme fatigue isn't alleviated by bed rest and persists in the absence of underlying medical conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention[1] , patients suffering from CFS often have other nonspecific symptoms, including muscle pain and impaired memory. Just what triggers CFS is unclear and there is neither a cure nor a prescription drug designed to specifically treat the condition. Still, certain therapies and lifestyle changes may help relieve symptoms.

Typical costs:

  • Patients seeking medical care for CFS would start with an office visit to a primary care physician, which is typically covered by health insurance. For patients covered by health insurance, out-of-pocket costs typically consist of a copay of $10-$50 or more, or coinsurance of 10-50% or more. For patients without health insurance, an office visit typically costs $50-$200 or more. Because some symptoms associated with CFS are similar to symptoms of other disorders, it may be necessary to see several doctors to get a proper diagnosis.
  • Treatments[2] such as graded exercise therapy, physical activity that gradually increases in intensity over time, and cognitive behavioral therapy, in which patients learn how to better cope with CFS, may offer some relief. For uninsured patients, out-of-pocket costs for a physical therapist are typically $50 -$350 or more per session, while a one-hour session of cognitive behavioral therapy typically starts at $125 and can cost more than $250. At Behavioral Care Associates[3] in Schaumburg, IL, the hourly rate for individual therapy is $150. For insured patients, typical out-of-pocket costs for these therapies typically include a copay of $10 -$75 per session or coinsurance of 10%-50% or more.
  • Since some people who have CFS also suffer from depression, doctors may prescribe a Tricyclic Antidepressant such as amitriptyline, which costs $12 on, but for patients with health insurance, typically brings a copay of $3 or coinsurance of 5%.
Related articles: Physical Therapy, Acupuncture, Massage, Health Insurance

What should be included:
  • Because there are no diagnostic lab tests for chronic fatigue syndrome, a doctor will instead work to exclude the presence of other conditions. He or she will start by taking a detailed patient history and may conduct blood, urine or other tests. To be diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, a patient must have severe unexplainable fatigue and one or more characteristic symptoms, such as muscle pain or a recurring sore throat, for at least 6 months.
  • According to the University of Maryland Medical Center[4] cognitive behavioral therapy usually requires 6 - 20 hour long sessions, in addition to tasks that patients may be asked to perform at home. Graded exercise therapy may begin with as few as three to five minutes of moderate exercise a day, increasing activity by about 20% every two to three weeks until the patient can do 30 minutes a day.
Additional costs:
  • Some CFS patients use alternative therapies such as acupuncture, which typically costs $75-$95 for an initial visit, or massage, which can cost between $60 -$120 for 45-60 minutes with a private therapist. However, it's been difficult for researchers to determine how well these therapies really work.
  • Many specialists who offer cognitive behavioral therapy will use a sliding fee scale based on a patient's income to determine costs. The CDC also offers tips[5] for patients who may be able to to structure graded exercise therapy on their own.
  • Outlets such as Costco[6] and Walmart[7] often sell prescription and over-the-counter drugs at significant savings. Walmart, for example, has a prescription drug program[8] that includes certain generic drugs at commonly prescribed dosages.
  • Many hospitals offer discounts of 30% of more to uninsured/cash-paying patients. At St. Joseph Hospital[9] in Orange, CA, for example, patients without health insurance may qualify for a 45% discount off billed charges. They'll also be offered an additional 10% discount if payment is made within 10 days of receiving a bill.
Shopping for chronic fatigue syndrome treatment:
  • The CFIDS Organization of America offers information[10] on support groups, a reading list, and other resources for CFS patients.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
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