Prior to August 2018, over 16 million patients that had health insurance through UnitedHealthcare were left to pay out of pocket or continue to live in constant pain if they needed a lumbar disc replacement for back and spinal issues. After a recent announcement however, the second-largest commercial insurer will cover the procedure when done with the prodisc L Anterior Lumbar Total Disc Replacement.
The decision means that now, three out of the four largest insurance providers in the United States will provide coverage for Lumbar TDR. Before this, TRICARE was the latest insurer to provide coverage for the technology, which provided 9.5 million people with affordable access to the system that would provide the relief they need.
It is an important decision by UnitedHealthcare and other insurers. Millions of Americans suffer from back pain due to spinal discs that have degenerated, failed, or have become naturally worn. Often this condition is debilitating and can negatively affect the quality of one’s life. With this additional coverage, many of these individuals can be greatly helped and lead a better life without pain.
The prodisc technology is not the only Total Disc Replacement technology, but it is the one that has been most studied throughout the world over the last 30 years. Through those studies, more than 400 publications have identified its effectiveness in helping over 125,000 patients. In total, over 25 million people have been helped once given access to this technology that truly changes their lives for the better.
“These studies show just how effective Total Disc Replacement is,” says Dr. Victor Hayes, a Tampa Bay board certified spine surgeon. “It is a safe alternative to the fusion that had to be done in the past, and has been shown to decrease degeneration in surrounding discs. Now is the time for all insurers to follow UnitedHealthcare’s decision so that even more patients can have affordable access to this type of treatment.”
While there is still some work to do before all insurers get on board with providing coverage for the technology, the latest decision by UnitedHealthcare is definitely a move in the right direction.