The Resilient Brain

Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain Injury Awareness: Treatment and the Insurance Issue

The unfortunate truth: In this economy, few can afford the right treatment.

In my January 30th blog I wrote about the various symptoms that occur as a result of a brain injury.  During Brain Injury Awareness Month, it is especially important to know that for every symptom, there are methods, treatments, and practical suggestions that can help you regain your life. I’ve divided these various treatments and methods into three categories based on insurance coverage: conventional (traditional), complementary, and alternative.

It’s upsetting that 24 years ago, more treatments were covered under conventional then there are today, including Neurofeedback, Hypnosis, Nutrition Counseling, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). When someone calls with a symptom and asks if there is help, all too often the answer is “yes, however it is not covered by your insurance.” This is an awful feeling for both the patient and the practitioner. We paid high premiums only to have the CEO of an insurance company, who makes millions of dollars a year, deny us the right to treatment, and with today’s economy most people can’t afford to pay out of pocket for treatments. Thus, many people with a brain injury are forced to take medications that can have side effects, when a different method or treatment works just as well without the side effects. I want to make it perfectly clear that I think medications, when needed, are extremely helpful. However, when there are other methods that work equally well without side effects, both should be covered by insurance, not just the medication.

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Currently there are only a handful of states where HBOT is covered, such as Florida, Texas and California. I’ve had several patients whom HBOT would have helped, and the local hospital that is only 10 minutes away refused them treatment, even for fee for service. 

Neurofeedback, which is extremely effective for treating numerous symptoms of a brain injury, used to be covered by the majority of health insurance carriers. Now, in 2014, there is only one company that will reimburse a Neuropsychologist, like myself, or a medical doctor. Yet there are thousands of extremely well-qualified Neurofeedback practitioners not being covered. This also holds true for practitioners who do cranial sacral therapy, hypnosis, energy psychology, Reiki, polarity, and EMDR. 

In my next blogs I’ll be presenting the wide variety of methods and treatments that really do help all the various symptoms of a brain injury. The frustrating catch, however, is that unless you’ve been in some form of personal injury such as an auto accident, slip and fall, or work-related injury, you have to pay out of pocket for such services, which is extremely difficult in this economy. 

As part of Brain Injury Awareness Month, the only way things will change is when people with a brain injury or their family members contact the various organizations and state representatives to lobby to have these services covered under the various medical and behavioral health insurances as an essential means for a person to regain their life again. 

*For more of my ideas on transforming healthcare, click here to see my healthcare proposal.

Diane Roberts Stoler, Ed.D., is a Neuropsychologist, Board Certified Health Psychologist, Board Certified Sports Psychologist, and Trauma Therapist with over 35 years experience.

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