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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > General Surgery & Neurosurgery > Spinal Cord Stimulation

Spinal Cord Stimulation Cost


How Much Does Spinal Cord Stimulation Cost?

 
average costWith Health Insurance: Copay or 20% Coinsurancehigh costWithout Health Insurance: $15,000-$50,000+
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Spinal cord simulation[1] is a treatment in which a low-voltage electrical current, emitted by a small generator implanted in the back, is used to disrupt nerve impulses and block feelings of pain. It may be recommended for some patients who have had nerve-related pain, failed back surgery, or complex pain syndromes, among other conditions. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons[2] as many as 50,000 neurostimulators are implanted worldwide every year.

Typical costs:

  • For uninsured patients, typical out-of-pocket costs for spinal cord stimulation are $15,000 - $50,000 or more. According to a study[3] funded by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, average total medical costs of implanting a SCS system range from $19,246 - $47,190 per patient. Another study[4] published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine finds the costs per patient to be $32,882 under Medicare and $57,896 under Blue Cross Blue Shield , with annual maintenance per patient of $5,071- $21,390, depending on whether complications are present.
  • Spinal Cord stimulation is typically covered by health insurers, but may be restricted to the treatment of specified conditions. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan[5] only considers it a useful therapeutic option for severe, chronic pain of the trunk or limbs that has been unresponsive to conventional treatments, or for certain patients with chronic refractory angina pectoris.
  • For patients with health insurance, out-of-pocket costs typically consist of a copay or coinsurance of 20% or more.
Related articles: Back Surgery, Broken Back, Cortisone Injection, Health Insurance

What should be included:
  • A doctor will first try inserting a trial stimulator[6] through the skin for a few days or weeks; if it is successful, he or she will then implant a permanent stimulator. The stimulator is typically implanted under the skin of the abdomen or near the buttocks.
  • Most patients go home the same day they receive their permanent implant. Before being released, the patient will receive instructions on caring for the incision area and using the SCS device.
  • The Mayfield clinic, one of the largest neurosurgical practices in the world, based in Cincinnati, OH, offers a detailed explanation[7] of the procedure.
Additional costs:
  • A spinal cord stimulator battery must typically be replaced every 2 to 5 years.
  • Post surgery, pain will be managed with narcotic medications for a short period, which may cause constipation and require laxatives. Over-the-counter laxatives and stool softeners typically cost $2 -$25 depending on the brand and amount. For example, Nature's Way - Psyllium Husks Herbal Laxative VCaps [8] cost $6 at drugstore.com.
Discounts:
  • Many hospitals offer discounts of 30% or 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.
  • Some free clinics, such as Community Health Free Clinic[10] in Chicago, provide orthopedic or neurological specialty care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services[11] posts a directory of federally funded health centers; if the nearest clinic doesn't offer orthopedic care, ask for a referral.
Shopping for spinal cord stimulation:
  • Healthwise offers a checklist of questions patients can ask doctors[12] while considering the procedure.
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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External Resources:
  1.  www.webmd.com/back-pain/spinal-cord-stimulation-for-low-back-pain
  2.  www.aans.org/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Spinal%20Cord%20Stimul...
  3.  www.lni.wa.gov/ClaimsIns/Files/OMD/finalReportSCS.pdf
  4.  thejns.org/doi/abs/10.3171/2009.2.SPINE0865
  5.  www.bcbsm.com/mprApp/MedicalPolicyDocument?fileId=91845
  6.  www.spinedallas.com/trials-spinal-cord-interventional-spine-pain-doctor-dallas-tx.html
  7.  www.mayfieldclinic.com/PE-STIM.htm
  8.  www.drugstore.com/natures-way-psyllium-husks-herbal-laxative-vcaps/qxp31549?catid=47608...
  9.  www.sjo.org/For-Patients/Your-Hospital-Bill/Self-Pay-Discount-Program.aspx
  10.  www.communityhfc.org/referals.htm
  11.  findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/Search_HCC.aspx
  12.  www.sanfordhealth.org/Content/HealthInformation/HealthWise/media/pdf/hw/form_zm2258.pdf
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