Arkansas is First State Requiring Insurance to Cover Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine for State Employees New Law Expected to Save $100 Million Dollars

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by Dr. Charles Mok

Regenerative therapy is a term that is gaining popularity and becoming more and more mainstream.  It refers to using the body’s own natural healing process to treat conditions, such as arthritis.  It now appears that Arkansas will be the first state to recognize the enormous cost savings associated with regenerative therapy treatments.

What many overlook is the tremendous cost burden that arthritis places on the United States each year.  It is estimated that the cost of knee arthritis in the United States is $17 billion per year.  $17 billion.  Per year.  The current management involves various imaging studies such as x-rays, MRI, and injections of steroids and other temporizing measures.  When the condition gets bad enough, some people elect to undergo knee replacement surgery.  All of these things come at a very steep cost.

The average person waits 13 years before undergoing knee replacement.  They will consume about $38,000 in healthcare expenditures before even getting the surgery.  When they finally have the surgery, the cost ranges from $40,000-70,000.

Emerging therapy for arthritis includes injections of the body’s own natural healing substances, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) for ligament and tendon injuries and fat-derived stem cells for arthritis, which can also be used for other degenerative conditions.

The relative cost of the regenerative therapies pales in comparison to the cost of traditional medicine. In fact, most insurance essentially all have refused to pay for regenerative medicine.  Instead, they offer old-fashioned traditional expensive surgery and ineffective medications.  Unfortunately, things such as physical therapy that do not alter the outcome.

In the emerging therapies act of 2017, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law coverage for state employees who undergo regenerative therapy as an alternative to traditional surgery and ineffective medications and injections. They estimate that this will save the state about $100 million per year.

Healthcare is in distress in America. It is way too expensive, the costs are rising faster than gross domestic product, and there seems to be no end in sight.

But, what if we turn away from traditional treatments that were developed decades ago, and go with more modern regenerative therapies?  Right now, we have the potential to save tens of the hundreds of billions of dollars year in wasted healthcare costs.

Our healthcare system is stacked in favor of maintenance of chronic disease instead of curing diseases with regenerative therapy.

Arkansas as a state will save hundreds of millions of dollars in the next decade because of the law signed by Governor Hutchinson.