Treatment for chronic pain can include a wide range of services and care. Lifestyle changes, prescription medications, surgical procedures, and certain wearable devices, such as Quell, can help alleviate chronic pain symptoms. When medication and alternative treatments have been ineffective and surgery is not a viable option, patients with chronic pain may find relief with Quell. Medicare coverage for devices like Quell may be limited in certain cases.
How Quell Works
Quell is a wearable device that provides a type of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) throughout the day. Due to the nature of chronic pain, Quell has been designed with an expectation of 24-hour daily use.
The device is worn as a cuff on the upper part of your leg. Electrodes stimulate nerves in bursts that transmit signals to the brain which are meant to trigger the release of natural pain relieving chemicals in the body, like endorphins.
Quell also monitors your sleep cycle and reduces power during sleep automatically. The company that makes Quell provides a mobile device app to help you record your pain symptoms and view data on your sleep cycle in order to understand your pain management progress better.
Risks and Side Effects Associated with Quell
The reported potential for risks or side effects when using a Quell device are few. Because the device is meant to be worn throughout the day, even while sleeping, there is an increased chance of developing skin irritation. Cleaning the device and skin frequently can help reduce this side effect.
Not all chronic pain patients report they have experienced relief with a TENS unit like Quell. Your doctor can help you determine if the circumstances related to your chronic pain issues might benefit from the use of electrical nerve stimulation. Patients who have implanted electronic devices like a cardiac pacemaker or defibrillator are typically advised to avoid using devices like Quell.
Medicare Coverage for Quell
If you experience chronic pain, talk to your doctor. Your Medicare Part B benefits can cover the cost of doctor visits to address symptoms and diagnose medical issues. Your physician can create a treatment plan to help alleviate your pain that may include therapies covered under Medicare. If your physician prescribes medication, it may be covered under your Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) or through a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage (MA-PD).
Medicare Part B insurance provides coverage for certain medically necessary devices that qualify as durable medical equipment. In order to qualify, this device must be able to treat a specific medical condition directly. Because Quell is used to treat a symptom, chronic pain, rather than the condition that causes that chronic pain, Medicare Part B is unlikely to cover costs associated with its use.
Medicare Advantage plans expand on the benefits provided through Original Medicare, but these vary by location and by private insurers. Costs associated with TENS units like Quell may be included in some Medicare Advantage plan benefits, but you should check with your plan of choice to confirm this and to find out if any documentation or evidence of medical need is required for coverage.
Quell does not require a prescription for use and is therefore considered an over-the-counter device. Even if your plan provides coverage for a TENS unit, Quell may not be a qualifying brand under your plan’s policy and their network of providers.