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Can I afford vein treatment?

Post by 
Dr. Mohamed Salama
Published 
September 1, 2022
W

hat role does cost play in the treatment of vein problems?
Dr. Salama: Veins are central to the body's ability to function. When veins are in poor condition, their ability to carry blood to the heart can be compromised. Vein problems and abnormalities tend to occur with age. Those who consider them only an aesthetic problem often believe that medical treatment is not necessary because it is too expensive or too time-consuming. However, vein problems can be a sign of a more serious condition that, if left untreated, can threaten circulation and overall health. That's why it's important to have a vein exam if you have vein problems.

Who assesses whether vein problems should be treated medically?
Dr. Salama: An experienced vein specialist can locate the problem and decide if medical treatment is needed if you have a painful physical symptom or vein abnormality. If your health insurance does not cover the cost, your doctor can work with you to set up an appropriate payment plan so that appropriate medical treatment can be provided.

What is meant by medically necessary treatment?
Dr. Salama: Some vein conditions can harm your health if left untreated. Treatment that is necessary to protect or maintain your health and well-being is considered medically necessary. For example, you may be eligible for coverage if you suffer from uncomfortable or bothersome physical symptoms caused by varicose veins, such as swelling, tenderness or heaviness in the affected area (often the legs). A vein ultrasound can determine if treatment is medically necessary. A quick in-office exam, called a vein screening, can reveal overall vein health and quality, as well as hidden vein problems that could be affecting your comfort or health.

When are treatments for vein problems considered cosmetic?
Dr. Salama: Vein treatments are considered cosmetic when they are performed to address concerns about your appearance or aesthetic goals. Such procedures are not medically necessary, but may be performed to address psychological issues such as lack of self-esteem or self-confidence. However, since the treatment is not medically necessary, the procedure is considered cosmetic and will most likely not be covered by health insurance. One option for financial relief is to have part of the treatment costs reimbursed through the tax return (extraordinary burden). Here, a tax specialist can advise the patient on what regulations and possibilities there are for this. One problem is that the regulations for reimbursement by health insurance companies are quite outdated with regard to modern vein treatments. While 80% of the cost of conventional vein treatment is covered by health insurance, not even a fraction of the cost of laser treatment is currently covered. Private supplementary insurance can help, but coverage is limited to outpatient procedures. It would be desirable to review private insurance policies for vein treatments in all German-speaking countries so that a well thought-out and sensible solution based on the latest scientific findings can finally be found. Then those affected will only have to worry about their health and well-being, but not about affordability.

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