Is HIFU Covered by Medicare?
Fair Square Medicare

Is HIFU Covered by Medicare?

HIFU treatment stock image

By Daniel Petkevich

Nov 21, 2022

The answer depends on what is being treated

If you’re a senior citizen on Medicare, you may be wondering how HIFU (high-intensity focused ultrasound) is covered. HIFU is a relatively new, non-invasive treatment that uses ultrasound waves to target and destroy cancer cells.

Stay up to date on Medicare

Join the Fair Square Medicare Newsletter to stay informed on cost savings, changes to Medicare, and other valuable healthcare information.

Unfortunately, Medicare does not offer comprehensive coverage for all the treatments that HIFU can help remedy. Let's walk through two of the most prominent examples as an illustration of the different ways Medicare might cover HIFU.

What is HIFU?

When most people picture an ultrasound, they typically think of imaging of someone's organs or sometimes of a pregnancy. But now, High-Intensity Focused Ultrasounds, or HIFU, can treat various conditions with precision and without causing much disruption in the body. HIFU is a non-invasive procedure that targets problematic areas, including brain tissue or tumors. HIFU is FDA approved, and clinical trials have shown great promise for its effectiveness in treating various types of cancer.

Rather than a typical ultrasound which uses sound waves to reproduce an image, these sound waves are more directed to interact with targeted areas to treat them. The sound waves are delivered using a ultrasound probe on or above your skin near the targeted tissue. The following image from the Cleveland Clinic shows how the procedure looks for treating prostate cancer.

High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) | Source: Cleveland Clinic

‎The sound waves heat the targeted tissue, similar to a magnifying glass focusing a beam of light, and the increase in temperature destroys the problematic part. HIFU is an exciting advancement of technology, especially when you consider that many of the alternative treatments for similar afflictions often involve more invasive or damaging procedures.

Does Medicare Cover HIFU?

The answer to this question depends on what you are treating. At the time of publishing, Medicare generally only covers HIFU when treating tremors associated with Parkinson's disease. HIFU for cancerous and benign tumors currently is not covered through Medicare.

Parkinson's Disease

Essential tremor, also known as kinetic tremor, are one of the most common side effects of Parkinson's disease. The shaking of the extremities, including head, hands, and voice, associated with tremors makes many daily activities more difficult for an estimated 10 million Americans. While little is known about the cause, tremors can be alleviated by targeting a small region deep in the brain.

In order to be eligible for this treatment, you must meet the following conditions:

  • You have been diagnosed with an essential tremor

  • You have tried at least two other medications to treat your tremor

  • The tremor affects your quality of life

  • You would be comfortable lying still in an MRI scanner for two to three hours

  • You are over the age of 22

Assuming you meet the conditions listed above, let's look into how Medicare can cover your procedure.

HIFU is an outpatient procedure, so your costs will be covered by Part B. Medicare covers 80% of the outpatient costs after you pay the deductible of $226, so you'll pay 20% (or less) of the remaining costs. Those with Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap Plans) might pay less than 20% or nothing at all.

In the rare case that you are admitted to the hospital, you are responsbile for the Part A deductible of $1,600. Because it is a minimally invasive procedure, in all likelihood, you won't have to worry about inpatient costs.

Side effects from this procedure are rare, but include the following:

  • Temporary or permanent muscle weakness

  • Loss of balance

  • Sensory loss

  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers or elsewhere in the body

Prostate Cancer

HIFU is generally seen as a treatment option for those with prostate cancer. According to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), coverage for HIFU in prostate cancer was retired starting on October 20th, 2022. If you want HIFU treatment for prostate cancer, you will have to pay the total cost of the procedure out-of-pocket.

There was a period of time when Medicare was offering more coverage of HIFU in prostate cancer, but over the last couple of years, Medicare has scaled back their coverage and the reimbursement for facilities that can perform this procedure.

According to Western States HIFU, starting in 2019 the reimbursement rate was so low that it would not cover the costs of the supplies needed to perform the procedure. They now offer a comprehensive package for those still interested in pursuing this treatment without Medicare coverage for $25,000. The cost may vary depending on your medical provider.

Some of the side effects of receiving HIFU treatment for prostate cancer include:

  • Urinary problems

  • Erectile dysfunction

So, what are some alternatives to HIFU for those diagnosed with prostate cancer?

  • Radiation

  • Removing the prostate surgically

  • Cryotherapy

  • Hormone therapy

  • Chemotherapy

Here are some additional treatment options from the American Cancer Society. You should confirm with your plan provider which treatments are covered under your Medicare plan.

Takeaway

If you are looking to receive treatment via HIFU, the reason you are seeking treatment is critical for determining affordability. The advancement of ultrasound technology has made it so treatment for these severe afflictions can come with significantly less bodily intrusion than traditional treatment methods. However, Medicare coverage only extends to those seeking treatment for tremors from Parkinson's disease.

Since Medicare once covered HIFU for prostate cancer, there might be an update concerning coverage in the future. We will update our blog accordingly, so stay in touch with Fair Square Medicare to stay abreast of any potential updates.

Before seeking treatment, remember to talk with your doctor. This content is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions about your Medicare coverage, call an expert today at 1-888-376-2028.

Stay up to date on Medicare

Join the Fair Square Medicare Newsletter to stay informed on cost savings, changes to Medicare, and other valuable healthcare information.


Learn More About Medicare

heart surgery stock image

How Much Does Open Heart Surgery Cost with Medicare?

2023-01-27

senior african american man feeling pain in his knees from arthritis while on a couch stock photo

How Much Does Xeljanz Cost with Medicare?

2023-01-25

Doctor talking to patients are explaining the treatment of a patient's illness stock photo

How Much Does Rexulti Cost with Medicare?

2023-01-24

Human hands holding healthy lung shape made from paper on light blue background. stock photo

How Much Does Trelegy Cost with Medicare?

2023-01-24

Female physiotherapist helping elderly man in wheelchair do exercises with dumbbells at health center stock photo

What Does Medicare Cover for Stroke Patients?

2023-01-20

Doctor demonstrating upper cervical spine anatomy stock photo

Does Medicare Cover Cervical Disc Replacement?

2023-01-20

Medicare Set Aside funds stock image

What Happens to Unused Medicare Set-Aside Funds?

2023-01-20

older man suffering from stomach pain due to IBS stock photo

Does Medicare Cover Xiafaxan?

2023-01-19

senior woman doing botox stock photo

Is Botox Covered by Medicare?

2023-01-19

Health insurance form on a table with pen, calculator and glasses stock image

What You Need to Know About Creditable Coverage

2023-01-18

Acute psoriasis on elbows is an autoimmune incurable dermatological skin disease stock photo

Does Medicare Cover Light Therapy for Psoriasis?

2023-01-17

wart on the sole of a white man's foot stock photo

Does Medicare Cover Wart Removal?

2023-01-17

woman sitting on sofa feeling pain in her foot at home stock photo

Does Medicare Cover Qutenza?

2023-01-13

Nasal spray stock image

Can Medicare Help with the Cost of Tyrvaya?

2023-01-12

Gloved hands with a scalpel begin a knee replacement surgery

Does Medicare Cover Iovera Treatment?

2023-01-11

A doctor with a clipboard consults a female patient with cancer

Does Medicare Cover Inqovi?

2023-01-11

Physiotherapist showing workout record on exercise bike

Does Medicare Cover Exercise Physiology?

2023-01-11

A women's restroom sign that has been modified to show the stick figure woman needing to use the toilet

Does Medicare Cover Bladder Sling Surgery?

2023-01-11

Your Medicare One-Stop-Shop

Your guide to Medicare Parts A & B, Medicare Advantage, and Medigap.

100% free.

Fair Square Medicare

LEGAL

Privacy Policy

CONTACT

1-888-454-2383

MORE


Virgil Insurance Agency, LLC (DBA Fair Square Medicare) and www.fairsquaremedicare.com are privately owned and operated by Help Button Inc. Medicare supplement insurance plans are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program. This is a solicitation of insurance. A licensed agent/producer may contact you. Medicare Supplement insurance is available to those age 65 and older enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B and, in some states, to those under age 65 eligible for Medicare due to disability or End-Stage Renal disease. Virgil Insurance Agency is a licensed and certified representative of Medicare Advantage HMO, HMO SNP, PPO, PPO SNP and PFFS organizations and stand-alone PDP prescription drug plans. Each of the organizations we represent has a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any plan depends on contract renewal. The plans we represent do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. Plan availability varies by region and state. For a complete list of available plans please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov. © 2022 Help Button Inc

We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all of your options.

MULTIPLAN_FairSquareMedicare_01062022_M