Barriers to and Budget Impact of Lumbar Total Disc Replacement Utilization

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Evidence on the favorable efficacy, safety, and cost effectiveness of lumbar total disc replacement (TDR) compared with fusion for lumbar degenerative disc disease is mounting; however, a key barrier identified for TDR utilization is lack of coverage by US health insurers. Although economic considerations in a fee-for-service model should not be a determining factor in patient access, concerns regarding the budget impact of lumbar TDR surgery may unfortunately underlie coverage decisions. On the basis of the data available and economic modeling, the panel agreed that there is no indication that there would be a dramatic increase in patients seeking lumbar TDR. Considering several possible scenarios on potential growth in TDR utilization with coverage, as well as growth in the overall surgical pool of patients, economic modeling demonstrated that adoption of lumbar TDR would result in minimal or no budget impact for commercial insurance plans. Considering these model results and the economic literature, the panel concluded that adopting lumbar TDR within a coverage policy is expected to remain cost neutral for the insurer.

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