Narrow band phototherapy is fully covered in the United States by Medicare, with no additional costs to the patient. Also, a Medicare rebate applies to a percentage of the consultation cost.
Most private health insurance companies initially reject claims for reimbursement. However, with enough effort they will eventually provide patients with coverage for NB-UVB phototherapy for vitiligo.
To start, write a letter to the insurance company, explaining a medical necessity for an urgent intervention to arrest disease progression. You should also mention the risks of vitiligo, such as serious sunburn - it that's the case - and a heavy socio-ecomonic burden of the disease. Avoid mentioning emotional or cosmetic effects in claims.
Then ask your patient to send a personal letter to the health insurance approval department. The same points should be made, but from a more personal point of view.
Follow up with phone calls and any supporting evidence, explaining the devastating effects of vitiligo on patient's life. Patients can also ask for free insurance reimbursement assistance on the purchase of home UVB units from manufacturers based in USA or Canada.
Sample Letter"Mr./Mrs. <name> has been under my care since <date> and suffers from generalized vitiligo over <parts of the body>, which is now greater than <...%> of his/her body surface area. The patient has a history active vitiligo, which requires immediate treatment to limit further progression of the disease and prevent appearance of new lesions.
Topical and oral medications have been tried first, including <drug name> for <duration period> with no effect.
The patient has also been treated with ultraviolet lights type B (UVB) in our clinic and has shown significant improvement. As vitiligo is usually a life-long condition that requires scheduled follow-up with a low-dose maintenance therapy to minimize risk of relapse, my patient will most likely require UV light treatment for indefinite use. An FDA approved home-based UV light device would be effective for the patient’s condition.
The home UV light unit would be of lower cost than the same treatment at a clinic as vitiligo is a chronic condition generally requiring a minimum of 130 treatments over just the next 12 months. The results of home-based UV therapy are comparable to a clinic-based therapy with a lesser socio-economic burden to a patient. Each in-clinic visit will cost approximately <e.g. $85.00> yielding a minimum yearly treatment cost of more than <e.g. $11,000> whereas a one-time cost of a home UV unit is only <$...>.
Therefore, I am recommending <brand name, model> with Narrowband UVB lamps due to its ease of use, effectiveness and relative safety - derived from the device’s control of maximum exposure time coupled with its physician controlled timer where I can guide the patient’s use through periodic visits in my office. I feel my patient is capable of operating the home UV unit and staying within prescribed exposure times."
I support the petition to designate June 25 as Vitiligo World Day and save millions of people worldwide from social isolation and persecution.
What is coming?
The Step Up for Vitiligo Gala
Dallas-Fort Worth Vitiligo Support Group is organizing 'The Step Up for Vitiligo Gala' which will take place on April 28th in Austin, Texas at UT-Austin. Dr. Ammar Ah...28 April 2018 12:00, Austin, Texas at UT-Austin
11th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD
The 11th session Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) will take place at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, from 12 to 14 June 2018. Mo...12 June 2018 09:00, UN Plaza, New York
Can chemicals cause vitiligo?
It’s important to remember there are multiple factors involved in vitiligo onset, including genetic predisposition, living and working environments, and exposure to ce...
How long does it take to treat vitiligo?
Treatment results will vary by person and type of vitiligo. The rule of thumb is that you will need to allow at least 3 to 6 months before you begin to see results fro...
How to get insurance coverage for vitiligo treatments?
Most of health insurance companies will initially reject claims for vitiligo doctor visits or phototherapy treatments but with enough efforts you can have a substantia...