Restorative therapies for paralysis, part 2: When insurance companies refuse to pay

In the first part of this post, we took note of a couple of inspiring stories about people with spinal injuries making progress to overcome paralysis by using new robotic tools.

The tools work by sending signals directly from the brain to the legs through a robotic exoskeleton. How well do insurance companies do in covering this often-expensive treatment?

For veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs has covered treatment with exoskeleton therapy since 2015. Private health insurers, however, are generally unwilling to pay for robotic therapies.

Private insurers commonly argue that robotic therapy is not medically necessary. They tend to take this position even when such therapy could enable someone struggling with paralysis to regain the capacity to perform important functions in daily living, such as going to the bathroom on their own.

As robotic exoskeletons became more widely available, their cost will drop. For now, though, they cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $75,000 to $98,000.

This is of course a very significant cost – and yet it has to be compared to the overall cost of caring for someone with paraplegia.

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation puts those costs as more than half a million dollars in the first year and nearly $69,000 a year thereafter.

If someone in your family has suffered paralysis in a car crash or through some other negligent act, the stakes are very high. As you consider your options for available care, our attorneys can help you hold insurance companies accountable for paying their fair share.

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