What Factors Affect the Cost of Pain Management?

Valerie Goldberg

People who suffer from chronic illnesses may need pain management to make everyday activities tolerable. Pain management doctors offer a variety of services, ranging from prescribing medications to performing different types of physical therapy to doing acupuncture. The cost of pain management can vary based on a variety of factors. When trying to calculate the potential cost of pain management, a patient needs to consider his specific condition, health insurance and the type of treatment he is seeking.

Narcotic pain-killers are usually cheap and covered by insurance, but newer types of pain medicines can be costly.
Narcotic pain-killers are usually cheap and covered by insurance, but newer types of pain medicines can be costly.

The reason why a person is seeking pain assistance can impact the cost of pain management. Some people may need temporary pain management when recovering from a car accident or another injury. People living with chronic conditions may need to see a pain doctor for much of their lives. The cost to patients who only need a few pain management appointments will not be as high as the cost to people who suffer from illnesses with no cure. People with chronic conditions who take narcotics may need to check in with their pain doctors monthly and will have to pay for both the appointment and medication refills.

Health insurance is an important factor when it comes to the cost of pain management. Some health insurance plans may completely cover pain management and all offered services, while other insurance plans may only give partial cover or no coverage at all for pain management services. Pain patients with no insurance may put off seeking help because of the high cost of treatment.

Pain patients also should take into consideration the types of treatment available when estimating the cost of pain management. Many insurances will only charge a small co-payment to meet with a pain management doctor. Narcotic pain killers also are typically low in cost on many insurance plans. Newer medications for which no generic form is available may cost quite a bit, even for patients with insurance.

Different kinds of pain treatment beyond medications come with various price tags. Some insurance plans only cover a certain amount of physical therapy sessions a year. If a patient needs additional sessions, then he will have to pay the cost out of pocket. As of 2011, some newer and more controversial forms of pain management, such as Botox® injections, remain uncovered by most insurances. Patients wishing to try this type of treatment may have to cover the hefty cost for a treatment that may or may not help to manage the pain.

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Discussion Comments

John57

@bagley79 - Consider yourself very fortunate that you have coverage for your pain needs. My husband lost his job and with this the health benefits for our family.

The worst part about this is that I have rheumatoid arthritis, and have many days of chronic pain.

The medication I was taking was quite expensive, but it really helped control many of the symptoms. After he lost his job, I tried to go off this medication because it was so expensive.

After a few months I was so miserable that I couldn't do it. My quality of life was greatly affected by this. Exercise can only go so far when it comes to something like this.

I really understand how frustrating it is for people who cannot get the proper treatment for their pain because they do not have the money or insurance benefits.

bagley79

I have never been in situation where I suffer from chronic pain, but know how draining and expensive this can be.

My best friend was in a car accident, and this has left her with chronic and severe pain. It seems like no matter what she tries, nothing works on a long term basis.

She really doesn't want to resort to taking addictive pain killers and has tried to control the pain with physical therapy and proper exercises.

This is really starting to wear on her, and her next step is to visit a pain management clinic to see what they can do. She does have a good insurance plan, so this makes a big difference.

So far everything she has done has been covered by her insurance so she doesn't have the added financial burden of that. She still has to make co-payments on a regular basis, but this would be a lot more if she didn't have coverage.

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