by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | September 26, 2023
U.S. insurance provider Humana has announced that patients suffering from essential tremor, a neurological condition characterized by uncontrollable shaking, will now be covered for MR-guided focused ultrasound, giving its members an alternative treatment option in cases where medication does not work.
Performed as a single-outpatient procedure, patients often experience immediate improvement in their hands when treated with MR-guided focused ultrasound, with minimal or no complications, allowing them to quickly return to everyday activities.
Humana’s decision means that providers using solutions like the Exablate Neuro platform, developed by Insightec for this purpose, can expand the pool of eligible candidates who can afford treatment, increasing their revenue streams while potentially creating more sales opportunities for the manufacturers.
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"Now, more patients with essential tremor will have access to a treatment that helps them get back to living independently,” said Dr. Maurice Ferré, chairman and CEO of the board of directors at Insightec, in a statement.
The FDA cleared Exablate Neuro in 2016
for treating patients who did not respond to medication and again in 2022
, for treating both sides of the body, as the disease commonly affects both. Clinicians administer transcranial-focused ultrasound energy with the device, which is inside the MR scanner with the patient, to the brain’s thalamus, increasing energy until the patient shows signs of reduced tremors. Patients are awake and responsive during the whole procedure. The second session occurs at least nine months after the first one.
The treatment is covered by Medicare in all 50 states. In 2018, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association became the first private insurer to cover it for patients, followed by Aetna, Anthem
, and Cigna.
Over 50 treatment centers across the U.S. and more than 125 treatment centers worldwide use Insightec's Exablate Neuro platform to treat essential tremor.
Research in the neuroscience space for future applications is currently being conducted in partnership with academic and medical institutions.