We’ve all experienced heartburn—that uncomfortable burning in the chest that often occurs after eating a deliciously spicy or fatty meal. With a few antacids, you can go back to normal, right?
Not always. Oftentimes, acid reflux is chronic and can cause esophageal problems and serious problems. That’s why prompt acid reflux treatment is critical.
However, some people avoid early treatment because they’re concerned about the costs and their insurance coverage. Keep reading for more details about insurance and acid reflux treatment in Orange County, CA.
Understanding Acid Reflux
When eating, food travels down into the esophagus before entering the stomach and intestines. With acid reflux, the gastric acids of the stomach leak and flow back into the esophagus, causing a burning/painful sensation in the throat and chest and a bitter taste in the mouth. This warm, burning sensation is called heartburn.
While usually seen as an unpleasant side effect of eating overly spicy or fatty food, acid reflux is a lot more common and can be triggered by any food for some individuals. Patients who have acid reflux more than twice a week may actually have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Untreated acid reflux can cause inflammation, irritation, and esophageal scarring. Not only is this painful and uncomfortable, but the esophagus can become narrower (esophageal stricture) and cause swallowing problems (dysphagia).
In other words, acid reflux is nothing to take lightly. Patients should seek medical attention if they begin experiencing regular acid reflux symptoms. An experienced gastroenterologist can recommend different treatment options, from lifestyle changes to anti-reflux surgery.
Common Treatment Options for Acid Reflux in Orange County, CA
For many, antacids, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors. However, these only offer temporary relief.
Another treatment approach is lifestyle changes, like avoiding spicy, fatty, or caffeinated foods. Patients should avoid lying down immediately after eating to limit heartburn symptoms. Other changes include limiting alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy weight since both alcohol and obesity can contribute to acid reflux.
If acid reflux persists and occurs more than twice a week, and GERD is indicated, treatment recommendations involve prescription medications to alleviate symptoms and heal the esophagus. However, some acid reflux patients have less than desired optimal experiences with medications, especially if there are underlying conditions like a hiatal hernia. Anti-reflux surgery is a faster and more effective treatment option.The procedure is minimally invasive and performed laparoscopically.
Health Insurance and Acid Reflux Treatment
Healthcare insurance companies decide what they cover based on medical necessity. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a medically necessary service helps diagnose, treat, or cure a medical condition or disease. It doesn’t matter whether the service is elective or emergent—if it helps relieve symptoms or treat a condition, insurance companies view it as a medical necessity.
Acid reflux surgery and GERD treatment is classified as a medical procedure that is necessary to treat or cure a condition or disease and therefore covered by insurance. However, coverage amounts vary per insurer and health plan. Here are some factors insurance companies use to determine procedure costs.
- Copay: Insurance companies establish a minimal fee—called a copay—that patients pay for any doctor’s appointments, emergency visits, and prescriptions.
- Deductible: Most insurers require a deductible. This is the amount patients must pay out of pocket before their medical insurer covers certain procedures and treatments.
- Coinsurance: Patients share the cost of their treatment with their health insurer. Coinsurance amounts are determined by the insurer. For example, an insurance company pays 90% of the fees while the insured is responsible for the remaining 10%.
So what does this mean for patients who need acid reflux treatment in Orange County, CA? They should check with their insurer and their acid reflux surgeon to learn of any out of pocket expenses associated with their treatment.
Common Questions About Acid Reflux Treatment and Insurance
Will insurance cover my acid reflux medications?
Many health plans provide prescription drug coverage for acid reflux treatment. However, they use a tiered system to formulate the costs. For example, medications in lower tiers have the lowest copayment amounts and are usually generic brands. Prescription medications tend to become more expensive the higher the tier.
Sometimes, brand name meds are not covered. Patients can look for generic brands, ask their acid reflux specialist for generic options or request coverage directly from the insurance company.
What if I can’t afford the out-of-pocket expenses?
One option is scheduling your acid reflux treatment in Orange County, CA a few months in advance, giving you time to save money, take out a personal loan, or ask friends and family to borrow some cash. During this time, you can focus on making lifestyle changes and using over-the-counter meds to manage any symptoms.
Another option is asking your acid reflux treatment specialist about payment plans. Have an honest conversation with your healthcare provider about your financial situation and see if you can negotiate a monthly payment plan for your out-of-pocket expenses.
How can I know in advance what will be covered and what won’t?
Reviewing your policy is the easiest way to know what your insurance company will cover. If you don’t have it handy or don’t understand the specifics, call the insurance company and ask them. They can explain what types of acid reflux treatment and medication they will cover and how much you’ll be expected to pay.
Tips for Managing Acid Reflux Treatment and Navigating Insurance Coverage
Healthcare insurance coverage can be complex and confusing—especially when patients are trying to plan for major procedures like anti-reflux surgery. Before seeking treatment, patients should review their insurance policy for details about copays, deductibles, and coinsurance. That way, they can go into their initial consultation with an idea of how much they’ll need to pay for diagnostic tests and treatment options.
Patients can call their insurance company and ask what their deductible and coinsurance obligations are.Then they can start financial planning for their treatment. Options include making payments toward their deductible before scheduling surgery, using their savings or emergency funds to cover treatment costs or taking out a personal loan. Another option is setting up a payment plan with their acid reflux treatment provider.
Acid reflux may seem like nothing to worry about, but when acid reflux becomes chronic, it can lead to more serious issues that can affect your daily life. If you’re experiencing symptoms regularly, talk with a board-certified acid reflux treatment specialist and your insurer as soon as possible to determine the best treatment options for you.
To find out if inguinal hernia repair surgery is right for you, Contact Orange County General Robotic Surgery at (714) 706-1257 for a consultation with Dr. Abtin H. Khosravi.