Abbott announced today that UnitedHealthcare (UHC)—the largest private health insurance company in the USA—has updated its ‘Implanted electrical stimulator for spinal cord’ medical policy to expand patient access to Abbott’s dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurostimulation devices for people suffering from chronic pain, provided medical policy criteria are met.
This updated medical policy covers 26 million UHC commercial members, according to an Abbott press release, and will go into effect on 1 March 2022.
The new UHC coverage assessment provides access to Abbott’s non-opioid DRG stimulation—a neurostimulator specifically designed to treat complex nerve pain conditions caused by complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or peripheral causalgia, which are forms of chronic pain that affect the lower extremities up to the hips, including the pelvis, after an injury or surgery.
“The addition of coverage for a DRG stimulation therapy by one of the nation’s largest insurers is an important development for patients living with chronic pain who have exhausted other treatments,” said Kiran Patel, a practising physician at the Spine and Pain Institute of New York (New York, USA), director of Neurosurgical Pain at Lenox Hill Hospital, and secretary of the North American Neuromodulation Society (NANS).
“The new clinical guidance from UnitedHealthcare means that people will now have the ability to consider Abbott’s DRG treatment as an accessible option to manage their chronic pain.”
Abbott claims that its Proclaim DRG neurostimulation system is the only US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved DRG technology for the treatment of CRPS I and causalgia of the lower extremities. The system is low maintenance and recharge-free, meaning patients do not need to break from their daily activities to charge the battery, as is the case with other systems, according to an Abbott press release.