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Clients & Clinicians

Is TMS Therapy Covered by Insurance?

Brandon Grill
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January 12, 2024

You've heard about this thing called TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation). And you've heard that it might help with your mental health. After all, it's proven to help with Depression and OCD. But will your insurance cover it? 

It's a fair question. The costs of mental healthcare in the US are sky-high. Most people can't afford to pay for something like TMS out of pocket

So, I got some help from Dr. Bryan Bruno, the Medical Director at Mid City TMS in New York City. By the end of this article, you'll know whether insurance covers TMS therapy. You'll also get tips for navigating coverage that could save you time and money.

Understanding TMS Therapy

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a new approach to mental health treatment. This non-invasive therapy uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. It targets areas implicated in mood regulation that are underactive. TMS therapy has gained much attention recently. It can treat diagnoses that are resistant to conventional treatments.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given its stamp of approval to TMS for specific uses. Dr. Bryan Bruno is a Medical Director at Mid City TMS in New York City. He emphasizes the effectiveness of TMS in treating two main conditions:

TMS therapy's minimal side effects make it an appealing option for many. Unlike electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), TMS doesn't need sedation and doesn't induce seizures. Recovery time is quicker and brings fewer cognitive side effects.

TMS Therapy Cost and Insurance Coverage

When considering TMS therapy, two major considerations are cost and insurance coverage.

"Without insurance, the cost of TMS varies depending on the protocol and region in which it is provided; TMS generally costs between $150-400 / session” says Dr. Bruno. A full course of treatment often includes daily treatments over several weeks. The total expense can grow into thousands of dollars if you're paying out-of-pocket.

Now, let's address the core question: "Does insurance cover TMS therapy?" The answer can vary based on many factors. Dr. Bruno notes, "In my experience, TMS tends to be covered by insurance for the FDA-approved uses for treatment-resistant Depression and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder."

This growing recognition of TMS therapy's efficacy has led to increased insurance coverage. However, coverage details can differ among various insurance providers and plans.

Insurance companies typically assess several criteria before approving TMS therapy. These include:

Dr. Bruno adds, "Usually, a person has to have tried at least two antidepressant medications without adequate relief before TMS would be considered as an option."

Overall, the landscape of TMS therapy insurance coverage is evolving. Some treatments are already covered (though not without insurance hassles). Others may be on the way, such as for anxiety and other challenges. Now, let's get specific.

Related: Is EMDR Therapy Covered by Insurance? A Comprehensive Look for Therapy Seekers.

Specific Insurance Providers and TMS Therapy Coverage

I sent Dr. Bruno a list of insurance companies: Aetna, Cigna, Tricare, Anthem, Magellan, Optum, BCBS, MHN/Healthnet, and Beacon.

Then I asked him which ones cover TMS therapy. His answer?

"All of these insurance companies cover TMS." 

This broad coverage is a testament to the increasing recognition of TMS therapy's effectiveness. It is a much-needed treatment option for those with certain mental health conditions.

Yet, the specifics of how each insurance company covers TMS can vary. This variation can include

Speaking of pre-authorization, Dr. Bruno highlights a common requirement among commercial insurance plans: "Yes, the commercial insurance plans generally require a prior authorization for TMS."

This means that before beginning treatment, you need a doctor's evaluation. Thankfully, TMS providers are aware of this and can help you.

Understanding the policies of specific insurance providers is key when considering TMS therapy. Contact your insurance provider to get detailed information about their TMS coverage. Ask about their requirements for prior authorization, and any other relevant details. This direct communication will maximize your chances at coverage.

Government Programs (Medicare and Medicaid) and TMS Therapy Coverage

What about Medicare and Medicaid? Will they cover your TMS Therapy?

Regarding Medicare, Dr. Bruno states, "Medicare does cover TMS." This is great news for Medicare recipients: You can access TMS therapy under your plan.

Medicare's coverage shows recognition for TMS as an effective treatment for certain conditions. (We're looking at you, Treatment-Resistant Depression and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.)

But, Medicaid coverage for TMS therapy is less straightforward. Dr. Bruno mentions, "Medicaid generally does not cover TMS therapy."

Medicaid provides coverage for some low-income people, families and children. It also covers pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Yet coverage varies from state to state. To know if your state covers TMS Therapy through Medicaid? Contact your local government.

Prior Authorization for TMS Therapy

One potential hurdle between you and coverage is getting "prior authorization.” Dr. Bruno emphasizes this requirement in his practice: "Yes, the commercial insurance plans generally require a prior authorization for TMS."

Prior authorization is when your insurer requires pre-approval for specific medical services. This lets them ensure they're medically necessary. In a nutshell, your insurance company wants to give the stamp of approval before TMS therapy.

This step is crucial for patients to gain access to TMS therapy. It's often a standard part of the treatment initiation process.

TMS for Conditions Other Than Depression

TMS therapy shows effectiveness in treating treatment-resistant depression. However, its potential applications extend to other mental health conditions. Recent research and clinical trials are exploring the use of TMS for these conditions:

As evidence grows, we may see an expansion in the approved uses of TMS therapy.

Conclusion: Key Takeaways on TMS Therapy Insurance Coverage

As we wrap up, here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know about insurance coverage for TMS therapy:

Bottom line? TMS therapy is increasingly accessible through insurance. If you're considering it, start by talking to your provider and insurance company. Understand your specific coverage and any steps you need to take. Lastly, remember to never give up hope. Whether TMS is covered or not, you deserve to get mental health help that works.

About the Author
Brandon Grill

Brandon Grill is a mental health copywriter and marketer based in Las Vegas, NV. He loves helping mental health professionals build fulfilling businesses. You can find Brandon going on a walk with his adorable nephews.