- Dr. Jason Rountree
How much does laser therapy cost?
Updated: May 24, 2022
I have been in the laser therapy industry for quite a long time now and we deliver thousands of treatments annually. Today, I would like to address a topic that almost everyone asks about - the cost of laser therapy!
Now, if you've been here with us on the podcast or on this blog, you have heard me talk a lot about:
the evidence behind laser therapy
how well it can work
how many treatments it might take
what type of laser is good
how to find good and effective laser therapy care
But, what about the cost?
You need to be investing your money into treatments that are going to work, that are not overpriced, and that are not going to have the risk of further damaging your body. So, every dollar you put into a treatment or therapy is an investment into your body. For that reason, I want to take today's episode and try and answer some of the questions I am most commonly asked such as the cost and access to laser therapy.
Is Laser Therapy Covered By Insurance?
Now, the first question that most people have is: will my insurance cover this? I will give you the answer to that, but I am going to make you wait for it. I want you to hear a few other things before I give you the answer, because truly every dollar you put into your body is an investment. It has to be your investment, and the insurance can help you, but your insurance's job is not to make you healthy. Your insurance’s job is to make a profit.
Keep that in mind as we go through this topic. Your insurance is there to try and profit as much as they can. That's their job. If you can utilize insurance to help offset the cost of keeping you healthy, that's great! That's why you have it, right? Still, that does not negate that their job is to make a profit. It may appear that the same sentiment cannot hold true for our public health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid, but they are designed to spend as little money as possible to save taxpayer dollars. Yet, even Medicare is not necessarily interested in your health. They are interested in spending as little as possible.
Quality of Life Costs
Now, before I get into the cost and affordability of laser therapy, I want you to understand that I am not recommending that you get this type of treatment. The first step is to get evaluated to even know if this is an option for you. And before you get assessed, I want you to put a value on your condition. I want you to figure out how much this condition costs you - whatever health condition it is.
For example, when I'm talking about how much your condition costs, say you're suffering from plantar fasciitis. You have foot pain and it really gets painful in the mornings. It may mean that you cannot go hiking on the weekends, cross-country skiing, or that you cannot play tennis or pickleball like you would like to. This condition keeps you from staying on your feet for long periods of time and limits the distance you can walk, in turn keeping you from working a full day at work.
Well, if you are missing a half a shift of work and you get paid $20/hour, you miss four hours. There's $80 you missed out on, right? That's a hard number. This condition has now cost you $80. What about hiking? If you give up weekend hiking because you can't do it, how much is that worth to you? Is that a $50 hike, a $100 hike? How much would you pay for that hike and the ability to do it pain-free? That adds to the cost of this condition. What about losing out on those pickleball matches as well as the socialization that goes into having a good time and fresh air? How much is that costing?
To put it a different way, if you were involved in an accident that injured you and caused the aforementioned condition, how much would you be telling your attorney you expect to get for pain and suffering as well as dealing with all of these missed opportunities, missed activities, and missed work? How much would you want?
I bet it is a lot more than a couple hundred bucks. I bet it is several thousand, because these conditions that affect the way we live have more than just a monetary cost from missed work. What about time? What about the things you love to do? What about the lack of joy while chasing your grandchildren around because your feet are killing you?
While this example is built around plantar fasciitis, it is not limited to just that. This works for back pain or for significant diseases like neuropathy and Parkinson's. How much is that costing you? I want you to keep that in perspective because there is a real cost to letting a disease go on untreated. And by the way, we like to think that we can get treatment to improve conditions, but in some cases, there are no good treatment options other than laser. Think about neuropathy or traumatic brain injury, chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS), and Raynaud's disorder where there are not really good treatment options beyond a few medications to possibly reduce symptoms. If there is not another option, then how much would you pay for the only option that's out there? I am not telling you that you need to max out all of your credit cards to get a couple of laser treatments. All I am saying is that I want you to think about what the cost of your condition is, how much it is affecting you, and what a solution is worth.
Similarly, even a minor condition - say a mild case of neuropathy that affects your balance - can have huge costs. What if you lose your balance and you fall, only to dislocate your shoulder? Now we're talking about more significant costs, right? Hospital visits, ongoing instability, permanent impairment?
There are hidden costs
There are time costs
There are costs in activity
Seriously contemplate those aspects before you go in and get checked to see if laser therapy could be an option. You need to have an idea of the type of problem you are dealing with so that you can put the right level of importance on it.
Laser Therapy vs. Traditional Medicine
Let's assume that there are other options for your condition, such as a knee sprain or a muscle strain in the back. Sure, you can get a prescription for that; but what about the copays for the drug? What about the side effects that drug may have or medication interactions that could cause you to have a negative reaction and then you have to change your other medications around? What about the multiple, ongoing PT visits and time spent doing home stretching and exercises for something that's not resolving and getting better like it should? I had a patient just a couple months ago that came in. She had a pretty good size fall where she strained the muscles in her lower back. She had done two to three months of PT alongside medications, including Flexeril and muscle relaxers, and she had gotten about 50% better. However, she was left with significant muscle pain in her back that was not going away. She showed up in my clinic where we performed a handful of treatments (around ten) and she was completely better and doing great! Unfortunately, she had waited so long to get here that she had missed out on almost her entire summer.
Even when there are additional options for your treatment like PT and medications, you need to consider the total cost. Such as, those missed times of things you wanted to do, the appointments you have to go to, running to the pharmacy, buying the medications, feeling groggy because of medication side effects. Seriously consider this and put your doctors on the spot too. Ask, what am I giving up for these treatment options?
The Growth of Laser Therapy in Modern Medicine
Now, if you've been listening to the podcast or checking out our blogs for any amount of time, you know that I don't like to just throw out statements - I like to use evidence. So, I have a couple of quotes for you. This first quote is from an article published in 2016 in the Journal of Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. The article is titled: ""Quantum Leap" in Photobiomodulation Therapy (light therapy) Ushers in a New Generation of Light-Based Treatments for Cancer and Other Complex Diseases: Perspective and Mini-Review." In this review, they say that "it is time to begin considering light therapy as a potential drug equivalent. In addition, light therapy may have minimal to no adverse effects, improve quality of life and functional status, and raise the current standard of care." They say that light therapy "can also offer a non-invasive and cost-effective therapeutic option for patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. Further, light therapies will preserve quality of life and raise standard of care in an efficient and economical manner."
I'll also give you a quote from a guest editorial published this year by Dr. Jan Tuner in Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine, and Laser Surgery. He states that the use of laser therapy in ambulatory medical care seems to offer a considerable reduction of public tax spending. When he says this, he is talking about public programs like Medicare. As a matter of fact, in this editorial, Dr. Tuner goes on to say that there is somewhere between 30% and 86% of savings for some conditions treated with light therapy. That is a big deal when you consider the total picture of how much patients have to spend on medications, doctor visits, and therapies that they have to go to. Yet, when you include light therapy and laser therapy for these conditions, it brings down the cost of care.
How Much Does Laser Therapy Cost?
So, how much does laser cost?
Well, it really depends on you and your situation, how many treatments you need, what kind of insurance you have, and even what clinic you go to. In some states and clinics, we do get decent insurance reimbursement where the insurance can help pay for those treatments. In other cases, that is not an option and you will need to use a self-pay method where you can pay for the treatments either out of pocket or using a HSA (a health savings plan). Additionally, some clinics may allow you to prepay for blocks of treatments to get a discounted rate. Let me tell you, a trial of laser visits is affordable! When I say a trial of laser visits, I am talking about 6-12 sessions. Somewhere in that 6th to 12th visit, you are likely to see results. If you don't, in many cases, it's time to go ahead and move on to a different therapy. For most clinics, you're looking at somewhere between $50 and $150 per session with nine treatments on average. Altogether, 6-12 visits is not that expensive when you consider all of the other costs that could be happening:
the cost of continuing to miss out on activities
the cost of not working/reducing work hours
the cost of the pain itself
the cost of how it makes you feel
the cost of poor sleep
A trial of laser visits has become affordable whether or not your insurance covers it.
Kalispell Laser Therapy Experts
Take a look at your condition and put a value on it. Truly consider how much it is costing you to continue to deal with this issue. How much time are you losing? How many activities are you not able to go and do? What about your hours at work? Are you having to cut family time short? Get a genuine sense of how much it is truly affecting you.
Then get evaluated by laser therapy experts at Montana Laser and Medical Center. We will sit down with you and go through your condition in depth, our staff can talk to you about the costs and insurance coverage, and give you a customized care plan. I am telling you a trial course of laser, if that is appropriate for your condition, is affordable. I highly encourage you to check it out and get whatever condition you are struggling with taken care of now, before it continues to cost you more than just money.
Thanks again for joining me this week, and I hope you're here with me for next week's post!