Categorized as a medical food source, VSL #3 is a probiotic that helps keep the digestive tract healthy and working well. It does this by introducing all the different types of bacteria found there under normal conditions, but which may be missing because of illness.
VSL #3 can help people who are living with painful digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, or an ileal pouch. VSL #3 is specially formulated to help manage these diseases by meeting nutritional needs that may not be met by regular food consumption alone.
Do Medicare Recipients Have Coverage for VSL #3?
Because Medicare categorizes VSL #3 as a prescription medical food, your Medicare benefits may not cover the cost. If you have a Medicare Plan D (prescription drug) plan, or a Medicare Advantage (Part C) policy that includes prescription drug coverage, your independent policy may include VSL #3 in its formulary. This depends on your provider.
Because there are so many private prescription drug (Part D) policies available across the country, and the variety of drug coverage varies so widely, you should look for the details on your insurance policy’s formulary. Or, you can call a representative of your insurance provider to see if VSL #3 is included. It may be on the formulary as a higher tier medication because it is only available as a name brand medication. There is no generic form of VSL #3.
Probiotics and How They May Help Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic disease that causes abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and changes in bowel movements including either diarrhea or constipation. Many cases of IBS are caused by changes in the gut flora due to an imbalance in the good and bad bacteria found naturally in the gut.
IBS can happen to anyone but is most often the result of a diet high in processed foods, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and not enough fiber. It may also be the result of taking certain medications like antibiotics.
You may have IBS if you have an upset stomach on a regular basis, unexplained changes in weight, fatigue, skin irritations like eczema or itching, an autoimmune disease, or food intolerances.
Using products like VSL #3 and other probiotics may help the gut’s natural microbiome to recover and maintain a healthy balance, boost immunity and reduce inflammation, and relieve you from the other uncomfortable symptoms that accompany IBS.
VSL #3 contains a probiotic mixture of eight different bacteria including four strains of lactobacilli, three strains of bifido bacteria, and streptococcus salivarius subsp. thermophilus. The bacteria are freeze-dried live and made into a powder. VSL #3 is available in tablet and powder form.
Health care professionals suggest that to protect the microbiome of the digestive system naturally people should eat foods that are high in fiber, consume a lot of onions and garlic, eat fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and tempeh, and stay away from highly processed foods.
The Cost of VSL #3
Medicare recipients who do not have prescription drug coverage that includes VSL #3 can either purchase this medical food over the counter, or they can get a prescription from a health care provider.
The national average cost for a box of 20 packets of soluble powder of VSL #3 DS 900 billion cfu is around $160.00. Your final price may be slightly higher or lower depending on where you live and where you purchase the product.