According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), more than 20 million Americans suffer from neuropathy. Medicare recipients make up a substantial percentage of these cases, leaving many wondering if their insurance will help pay for their treatment. If you have Medicare coverage and require treatment for neuropathy, here’s what you need to know.
What is Neuropathy?
Formally referred to as peripheral neuropathy, this condition involves damage to your body’s peripheral nerves. The peripheral nerves send messages from your central nervous system to other areas of your body. When damage to these nerves occur, you may notice several symptoms, such as:
• Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
• Poor muscle coordination
• Muscle weakness
• An inability to feel hot or cold temperatures
• Excessive cramping
The word neuropathy is often associated with diabetes. More people with Medicare insurance seek treatment for diabetic neuropathy than for any other type. However, many other things can cause neuropathy, including:
• Repetitive motion injuries
• Physical trauma
• Exposure to toxins
• Excessive drug or alcohol use
• Metabolic issues
• Autoimmune disorders
Treatment for Neuropathy
If you notice signs of neuropathy, it’s important to seek treatment right away. Peripheral neuropathy can potentially lead to amputation, particularly when related to diabetes. When you see a doctor early on, you can better manage your symptoms, and reduce your risk of developing severe complications.
When caught in its early stages, doctors can often provide treatment to help regenerate the nerve. In later stages, the peripheral nerves may actually die off, in which case neuropathy symptoms are then permanent. Doctors recommend a combination of treatments for their patients with neuropathy. Your physician may prescribe medication to assist you in managing pain along with physical therapy to strengthen your limbs. Special splints and braces can provide stability and make it easier for you to get around.
In addition to treating neuropathy, you will also require care for the underlying condition that caused it. As such, you may need additional treatment to help you manage blood sugar or even surgery to correct damage due to an injury.
Medicare Coverage for Neuropathy
Medicare insurance comes in four parts: A, B, C, and D. Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) can help pay for your treatment for neuropathy. Part A can help cover your care if/when you are formally admitted into a Medicare-approved hospital or skilled nursing facility. Part B will help cover medically necessary services in a doctor’s office or outpatient setting.
If you have Original Medicare, you need to enroll in a Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) to get help paying for any medications your doctor prescribes to treat your neuropathy pain. Many people get their Medicare insurance through a Part C Medicare Advantage plan, which is required to provide at least the same Part A and Part B benefits as Original Medicare. MA plans are provided by private insurance companies who contract with Medicare, and many of the plans offer additional coverage, including prescription drug benefits.