Weighing the Costs of Stem Cell Therapy for Osteoarthritis

One of the things we are sure to mention in our PRP and stem cell training is the fact that health insurance plans do not cover the procedures. As such, patients are left to pay for treatment out of pocket. This is both good and bad.

It is good for doctors in the sense that PRP and stem cell injections are ‘cash on the barrelhead’ transactions that guarantee they get paid what they are due. It is bad for patients in that those who do not have thousands of dollars to pay for treatment miss out on something that could truly help them.

So what’s the solution? Until health insurance companies recognize the efficacy of regenerative medicine, no easy solution is available. Doctors can still help their patients by sitting down with them and talking about the true costs of treatment. We will use stem cell injections for osteoarthritis as an example.

The Many Costs of Treatment

Patients tend to look at the idea of cost and only think about the amount of money they pay for stem cell injections. But that’s only part of it. There are a lot of indirect costs that have to be accounted for. Once those other costs are accounted for, a few thousand dollars paid out of pocket may actually be a bargain.

Here are just a few of them:

1. Down Time

There is going to be some down time associated with stem cell injections. For most patients, that means 24 to 36 hours where they are not going to want to do anything to put stress on the affected joint. That may mean lost productivity and lost wages.

On the other hand, how much down time will there be in the future if the patient doesn’t receive treatment? If pain medications are no longer cutting it, the patient may lose even more time. Heaven forbid he or she should need surgery. That could be months of down time.

2. Ongoing Treatments

An osteoarthritis patient may need two or three stem cell treatments to achieve maximum efficacy. That could add up to quite a bit. Choosing not to receive stem cell injections doesn’t alleviate the cost of treatment, though. Passing on regenerative medicine means the patient will continue spending on pain medication, steroid injections, and other treatment methods. One way or the other, money will be spent.

3. Quality of Life

The final cost to be considered is nearly impossible to quantify in dollars and cents. Nonetheless, it is just as important as the others. It is the patient’s quality of life.

The money spent on stem cell injections can be replaced by other means. After all, money is merely a tool we use to purchase things. Quality of life cannot be replaced. The quality of each of our lives is what we make it, and no one can turn back time in order to get a do-over.

If a patient’s quality of life can be drastically improved with stem cell injections, is that enough to warrant spending money on the procedure? That is ultimately for the patient to decide. But patients also have to consider the financial and quality of life costs of continuing to pursue treatments that are not working.

If you are a doctor thinking of undergoing stem cell training, know that the procedures we teach are changing lives. PRP and stem cell therapies are beneficial for a growing number of conditions. We believe that when all the costs are considered, what you will offer patients following your training is well worth their investment.