We all know the old adage, “Health is wealth.” But what happens when the cost of maintaining that health becomes a burden? Especially when you’re trying to access groundbreaking treatments like ketamine infusions for mental health conditions or chronic pain. This raises the question: how to get ketamine infusions covered by insurance? This article will delve into the depths of this topic, providing you with a comprehensive guide on navigating through the complexity of insurance coverage for ketamine therapy.
The Current State of Mental Health in the U.S.
Mental health issues are on a rampant rise in the U.S. According to a recent report, one in five adult Americans grappled with mental illness in 2020. This equates to tens of millions of people living with depression, anxiety, and other debilitating conditions. However, despite the escalating need for effective mental health treatments, a significant portion of insurance companies in the U.S. does not officially cover emerging mental health treatments such as ketamine therapy.
The Conundrum of Insurance Coverage for Ketamine Therapy
A majority of insurance providers don’t cover ketamine therapy, which is often prescribed “off-label.” Primarily, this is because generic ketamine does not have FDA approval for treating depression and anxiety. However, Esketamine, a ketamine-derivative spray marketed under the brand name Spravato, was approved by the FDA in 2019 for patients with treatment-resistant depression. Unfortunately, coverage for Spravato also varies based on the type of insurance you possess.
Despite the lack of coverage, there is a silver lining. Research is currently advancing multiple psychedelic medicines, including generic ketamine, toward FDA approval. This could potentially influence insurance companies to cover ketamine therapy in the future.
Determining if Your Insurance Covers Ketamine Therapy
The first point we need to look at for the answer to the question “How are ketamine infusions covered by insurance” is determining if our policy covers ketamine therapy. Even if insurance coverage for ketamine treatment is limited, there are ways to determine if your insurance provider can help offset the costs of ketamine treatment.
1. Contact Your Insurance Provider
The first step is to reach out to your insurance provider. They can provide you with information on whether they cover any part of the ketamine treatment cost. Some insurance providers might cover some upfront costs of ketamine treatment by designating it as “an infusion of a generic drug.”
2. Explore Out-of-Network Reimbursement
In some instances, your insurance provider might ask you to pay your clinical provider “out-of-pocket,” with the intention of reimbursing you later. This is known as “out-of-network” reimbursement. However, it’s crucial to check with your insurance provider on out-of-network coverage requirements or reimbursements before seeking treatment.
3. Request a Superbill
A “superbill” is an itemized invoice of the services rendered to the patient. It acts as a “proof of service” and can be shared with the insurance provider at their request.
Coverage for Ketamine Therapy at Specific Providers
Some providers, like Mindbloom and Lone Star Infusion, may provide you with a superbill detailing treatment that you can submit for reimbursement. However, it’s essential to check with your provider about the possibility of out-of-network reimbursement.
Programs to Help Reduce Ketamine Treatment Costs
Health Savings Accounts (HSA)/Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
HSAs and FSAs are tax-advantaged accounts that allow you to set money aside for qualified healthcare expenses. Some ketamine treatment services could be considered qualified expenses, and therefore, it might be possible to use HSAs or FSAs to pay for treatment.
Monthly Payment Plans and Financing Options
Some ketamine treatment providers offer payment plans or other arrangements that help to defer the upfront cost of treatment. This option can provide immediate care while spreading the cost over a greater period.
The Future of Insurance Coverage for Ketamine Therapy
The future of insurance coverage for ketamine therapy looks promising. Companies like Mindbloom are making treatment more accessible and affordable. The more platforms, clinics, and providers show that ketamine therapy is a safe and effective mental health treatment, the more insurance companies are likely to consider it a viable treatment worth covering.
Current Lobbying Efforts
Organizations like the Ketamine Taskforce are pushing for changes in how insurance companies cover ketamine therapy. If efforts like these succeed, we might see a shift in the coverage of ketamine treatment in the future.
Medicare as a Path to Coverage
Ketamine Taskforce has applied to Medicare to prove that ketamine is an effective option for both depression and chronic pain. If Medicare approves the task force’s application, insurance companies will no longer consider it experimental.
Additional Steps Needed
The second hurdle is to get the American Medical Association to create a Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code, which can be used to get reimbursement for treatments.
The Winds of Change are Coming
Although there isn’t currently an exact timeline for when ketamine therapy will be accepted as a treatment covered by insurance plans, it’s only a matter of time until a shift occurs. Efforts are underway and will likely continue until real change is achieved.
Insurance Coverage for Ketamine Treatment: Current Scenario
Currently, only a select few insurance providers accept ketamine treatment. However, it’s essential to verify your benefits with your insurer to learn about potential out-of-pocket costs. Some providers offer competitive ketamine treatment pricing, flexible payment arrangements, and financing options.
The Bottom Line (So how to get ketamine infusions covered by insurance?)
While the insurance landscape for ketamine therapy may seem daunting, remember that change is on the horizon. With continued research, advocacy, and patient demand, it’s only a matter of time before more insurance companies recognize the value of ketamine therapy and offer coverage. In the meantime, exploring out-of-network reimbursement options, HSAs/FSAs, and payment plans can provide some relief.
Photograph: Alena Shekhovtcova@pexels