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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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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
Installed but quit working 3 times causing me to have surgery 4 times.
Amount: $4,000.00 not covered by insurance
Posted by: Joyce Wilson in Tuscon, IA.Posted: January 10th, 2017 11:01AM
Type of Treatment: for RSD in left handProvider: Tuscon, AZ Neurology
I no longer have information on the first installation but leads broke 3 times and had to have surgery that many times and it isn't operating now so I'm wondering if medicare would pay to have it removed as it is giving me a lot of pain in my back and I already have a lot of pain I'm suffering from and I'm 87 yrs old.
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aetna says no pre authorizing needed then denies payment
Amount: $160,561.02 not covered by insurance
Posted by: wsg in pittsburgh, PA.Posted: October 28th, 2016 11:10AM
Type of Treatment: neuro stimulatorProvider: upmc
I've been in pain since 2007the dr. have tried everything to help. The pain is in my neck and head I was a coal miner for 20 years after trying everything that was recommended and taken enough pain meds.that you can think of. it was recommended that I try a stimulator first I had to see a shrink to make sure I knew that it might not cure me 100% the test went great the pain level dropped 75% then I had the stimulator installed it was a godsend I could function again then Aetna decided that it was experimental and they denied payment after they said that NO PRE AUTHORIZING was needed. I'm on disability and have don't the funds to pay. now I'm severely depressed this is causing me more health problems then the pain I had I don't know what to do.
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Neuro Spinal Cord Stimulator
Amount: $199,990.00 not covered by insurance
Posted by: Geoff Ward in Seattle, WA.Posted: December 28th, 2014 11:12PM
Type of Treatment: to treat and manage painProvider: Swedish hospital Dr Gwynn
The form up above says that the total amount not covered by Insurance. Mine hasnt said they would cover me yet,,, so once I get a EOB thats the cost. I have recently had a spinal cord stimulator implanted on the 15th of dec. The best decision I have ever made. I woke up from sergery and the pains were significantly decreased! THe wellness my body is feeling is something I havent felt this great in over 7 years...... please ask me questions. I will be happy to help and explain things. I must keep an even report, I ahve been tired for the last 10 days. but I am attributing it to rebuilding my stamina and core .......... More to come later. Good Luck with yours. if you need to talk, PM me.
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Excellent outcome, spinal cord stimulation Oct. 2014
Amount: $2,000.00 not covered by insurance
Posted by: Charles Fisk in Fairfax, VA.Posted: December 24th, 2014 10:12AM
Type of Treatment: Spinal cord stimulator, medtrronicProvider: Fairfax Hospital
The key to a successful outcome is to shop and interview several neuro surgeons. I saw three before deciding on the one I used. I also insisted on a face to face meeting with the Medtronic rep before surgery. The rep can make or break the success of the implant. One Medtronic rep lied outright to me and call my surgeon a fool. After calling Medtronic executive offices he was terminated.
I guess the replacement rep heard about my calls and has gone out of his way to be available to me when needed. I should not have had to go that route but have learned that the so called reps are basically commissioned sale people with quotas and push the doctors to do implant surgery so you MUST find an ethical doctor. I suggest large University teaching hospitals where you usually find the top physicians. Medtronic is in it for the money so you need a surgeon who will place his/her patients above fees. I am pleased with the implant and am getting my back to a life not dictated by pain
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crazy bill
Amount: $319,548.91 not covered by insurance
Posted by: a user in warwick, NY.Posted: November 14th, 2014 10:11AM
Type of Treatment: scsProvider: workers comp
I got two bills for $39548.92 they are out of there minds I am going to call news channels to let them know what they are trying to do. They must be smoking crack.
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medicare won't cover my stimulator
Amount: $10,000.00 not covered by insurance
Posted by: baley in saint paul, MN.Posted: September 4th, 2014 11:09AM
I was told b4 I was going to have one that medicare doesn't cover it so I decided agnst it because of cost
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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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