Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy is used to help patients recover from a range of medical conditions. The treatments take place in a multi-person chamber or individual unit. During the treatment, air pressure is increased to three times higher than normal, allowing your lungs to gather more oxygen. Blood carries the oxygen and exposes the entire body to this increased atmospheric pressure.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be used to assist in the healing process for burns, skin grafts, gangrene, soft tissue, skin or bone infections, and non-healing wounds. It is also used to treat decompression sickness, carbon monoxide poisoning, radiation injury, severe anemia, and brain abscess.

Usually performed as an outpatient, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is most effective in multiple visits determined by your physician and based on the condition being addressed. The treatments do not require hospitalization, and last approximately 30 minutes to 2 hours, during which you will be monitored by technicians.

If you are eligible for Medicare, your Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage will help pay for hyperbaric oxygen therapy if it is being used to treat one of the following medical conditions:

  • Acute carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Cyanide poisoning
  • Decompression sickness
  • Crush injury
  • Gas embolism
  • Gas gangrene
  • Progressive necrotizing infections
  • Compromised skin grafts
  • Acute traumatic peripheral ischemia
  • Acute peripheral arterial insufficiency
  • Chronic refractory osteomyelitis, unresponsive to conventional medical and surgical management
  • Osteoradionecrosis as an adjunct to conventional treatment
  • Soft tissue radionecrosis as an adjunct to conventional treatment
  • Actinomycosis as an adjunct to conventional therapy when the disease process is refractory to antibiotics and surgical treatment
  • Diabetic wounds of the lower extremities if all of these apply:
    • You have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and have a lower extremity wound that’s due to diabetes
    • You have a wound classified as Wagner grade III or higher
    • You’ve failed an adequate course of standard wound therapy

If you get non-emergency HBO, or get therapy in Illinois, Michigan or New Jersey, you will need to get prior authorization for Medicare to cover your services.

If you have Original Medicare, you will likely pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount, and the Part B deductible applies. If you have supplemental coverage, a Medigap policy will help cover deductibles, coinsurance and copayments. Medicare Advantage plans include the same benefits as Original Medicare Part A and Part B, but many offer additional benefits. If you are enrolled in a MA plan, check with your plan for exact costs for hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Related articles:

What is Medicare Parts A & B

What is Medigap?