Variations and inconsistencies in venous ablation coverage policies between single-state and multistate carriers in the United States

Research Committee of the American Venous Forum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Vein ablation is a common and effective treatment for patients with chronic venous insufficiency. The overuse of vein ablation despite the existence of evidence-based guidelines has resulted in insurance companies developing restrictive policies for coverage that create barriers to appropriate care. This study compares the insurance coverage by single-state carriers (SSCs) and multistate carriers (MSCs), highlighting the variations and inconsistencies in the various policies. Methods: The American Venous Forum Venous Policy Navigator was reviewed for the various policies available in the United States. The policies were divided into SSCs and MSCs. The characteristics of the policies, including the anatomic and hemodynamic criteria for specific veins, duration of conservative treatment, disease severity, symptoms, and types of procedures covered, were compared between the two groups. SAS, version 9.4 (SAS Institute Inc) was used for statistical analysis. Results: A total of 122 policies were analyzed and divided between SSCs (n = 85; 69.7%) and MSCs (n = 37; 30.3%). A significant variation was found in the size requirement for great saphenous vein ablation. Although 48% of the policies did not specify a size criterion, the remaining policies indicated a minimal size, ranging from 3 to 5.5 mm. However, no significant differences were found between SSCs and MSCs. Similar findings were encountered for the small and anterior accessory saphenous veins. MSCs were more likely to define a saphenous reflux time >500 ms compared with SSCs (81.1% vs 58.8%; P =.04). A significant difference was found between the SSCs and MSCs in the criteria for perforator ablation in terms of size and reflux time. MSCs were significantly more likely to provide coverage for mechanochemical ablation than were SSCs (24.3% vs 8.2%; P =.03). SSCs were more likely to require ≥12 weeks of compression stocking therapy than were MSCs (76.5% vs 48.7%; P =.01). No significant differences were found in the clinical indications between the two groups; however, MSCs were more likely to mention major hemorrhage than were SSCs. Conclusions: The results of this study highlight the variations in policies for venous ablation, in particular, the striking inconsistencies in size criteria. MSCs were more likely to cover mechanochemical ablation and require a shorter duration of conservative therapy before intervention compared with SSCs. Evidence-based guidance is needed to develop more coherent policies for venous ablation coverage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101685
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Chronic venous disease
  • Varicose veins
  • Vein ablation
  • Vein ablation policies
  • Venous reflux

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