When you think about the dangers of high blood pressure, you likely think about the cardiovascular system and damage to the heart; however, high blood pressure can lead to damage and dysfunction in virtually every part of the body, including the eyes. Glaucoma is a condition of the eye that is associated with high blood pressure, and it occurs when increased blood pressure disrupts the optic nerve. Left untreated, high blood pressure in the eye can cause distorted vision and even blindness. Traditionally, treatment methods for glaucoma have involved medications to relieve blood pressure throughout the body, but modern medical technology now provides treatment in the form of stent devices like the Xen Gel Stent.
What is the Xen Gel Stent?
The Xen Gel Stent is a small tube that is inserted into the eyeball and acts like a traditional stent by opening up the vascular pathways in the eye to relieve pressure. The device itself is thin and flexible and is as wide as a human hair. It is made of a gelatin-like material that allows it to mold to the shape of the eye without causing friction, pain or vision disruption. Once inserted, patients may or may not need to use eye drops to further aid in controlling the symptoms of glaucoma. Patients who receive the Xen Gel Stent will also need to have an initial assessment completed to ensure that the device will be beneficial, and follow-up appointments will be required to monitor the stent itself and overall eye health.
Does Medicare Cover the Xen Gel Stent?
Medicare does cover Xen Gel Stent procedures when completed with or without cataract surgery. Coverage takes place under Medicare benefits as outlined in Part B, and the procedure must be completed by a Medicare-approved provider in a facility that is qualified under Medicare. Although Medicare does not provide extensive coverage for all treatments related to vision needs, because the Xen Gel Stent is directly related to high blood pressure and the potential impact this condition can have on the body as a whole, coverage is meant to improve cardiovascular health and reduce the potential for severe conditions like heart attack or stroke.
Medicare benefits may also cover the Xen Gel Stent under Part A if the procedure is performed during admittance to a hospital or while being cared for in a skilled nursing facility. Medicare Part D provides coverage for prescription drugs, so while this part of Medicare does not apply to the Xen Gel Stent procedure itself, some medications required for recovery or continued treatment of glaucoma may be covered under this part of Medicare.
Do Medicare Advantage Plans Cover the Xen Gel Stent?
Medicare Advantage plans are designed to offer additional benefits to Medicare recipients in the form of discounted premiums and co-pays. Additionally, some Medicare Advantage plans also offer recipients more freedom regarding where certain procedures can take place by reimbursing members for medical expenses. In the case of the Xen Gel Stent, Medicare Advantage members may be able to receive added vision benefits that pertain directly and indirectly to the treatment of glaucoma and other conditions that may be harmful to the eyes. To learn more, contact your Medicare Advantage plan to discuss your specific benefits in relation to glaucoma and ocular health.