Does Insurance Pay for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Reviewed on 3/10/2021

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a process in which patients are exposed to oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure in order to increase the oxygen content in the blood. Medicare and most commercial insurance companies will pay for hyperbaric oxygen therapy, though coverage may depend on the condition being treated.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a process in which patients are exposed to oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure in order to increase the oxygen content in the blood. Medicare and most commercial insurance companies will pay for hyperbaric oxygen therapy, though coverage may depend on the condition being treated.

Medicare and most commercial insurance companies will pay for hyperbaric oxygen therapy, though coverage may depend on the condition being treated.

Patients usually need prior authorization before treatment, and the out-of-pocket expenses vary depending on the individual insurance company’s plan. 

Medicare Part B may cover hyperbaric oxygen therapy, if the therapy is administered in a chamber and patients have one of the following conditions: 

  • Acute carbon monoxide intoxication
  • Decompression illness
  • Gas embolism
  • Gas gangrene
  • Restricted blood supply to limbs due to injury (acute traumatic peripheral ischemia)
  • Crush injuries and suturing of severed limbs
  • Progressive necrotizing infections
  • Acute peripheral arterial insufficiency
  • Preparation and preservation of compromised skin grafts
  • Chronic treatment-resistant bone infection (osteomyelitis), unresponsive to conventional medical and surgical management
  • Osteoradionecrosis (a complication of radiation therapy) as an adjunct to conventional treatment
  • Soft tissue radionecrosis as an adjunct to conventional treatment
  • Cyanide poisoning
  • Actinomycosis (a rare bacterial infection, often of the head and neck), only as an adjunct to conventional therapy when the disease process is resistant to antibiotics and surgical treatment
  • Diabetic wounds of the lower extremities if all of these apply: 
    1. The patient has type 1 or type 2 diabetes and has a lower extremity wound that’s due to diabetes
    2. The patient has a wound classified as Wagner grade III or higher
    3. The patient has failed an adequate course of standard wound therapy

What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a process in which patients are exposed to oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure in order to increase the oxygen content in the blood.

What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Used For?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used for: 

  • Air bubbles in the bloodstream (air gas embolism) 
  • Infections, including soft tissue infections and certain types of brain or sinus infections
  • Patients with scuba diving injuries such as decompression sickness
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning 
  • Anemia due to severe blood loss
  • Burns
  • Gangrene
  • Crush injuries
  • Radiation injuries, such as damage resulting from radiation therapy for cancer
  • Skin grafts that have failed to heal with traditional treatment
  • Surgical wounds and adhesions

How Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Performed?

  • A hyperbaric oxygen chamber is a long plastic tube with a padded table that slides into the tube. 
  • The patient lays comfortably on the table inside the tube. The chamber is gradually pressurized with pure oxygen, up to two and a half times the normal atmospheric pressure. This increased pressure will help the blood carry the extra oxygen throughout the body.
  • Patients may feel as if their ears are plugged, similar to the sensation when ascending in an airplane. Swallowing, yawning, or chewing gum can help relieve the sensation. 
  • Sessions usually last about two hours. 
  • The chamber is slowly depressurized when the session is over.

What Are Side Effects of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Side effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy include: 

  • The sensation of ear fullness during the procedure
  • Claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces)
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Temporary tiredness and lightheadedness 

QUESTION

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the same as adult-onset asthma. See Answer

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Reviewed on 3/10/2021
References
https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy

https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/what-is-hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy-used-for