Regulatory

Will Medicare patients be left out of the bionics revolution?

By: Brian Johnson @MassDevice

The dawn of the Bionic Man is upon us.

Bionic eyes help the blind to see and bionic ears allow the deaf to hear. Bionic limbs let the armless man reach and grasp and bionic legs have helped a fallen woman walk, and even dance again.

Millions have watched dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost a foot in the Boston Marathon bombing last year, perform for the first time since the terrorist attack as part of the 2014 TED conference last month.

But if Haslet-Davis had relied on Medicare for her health insurance, she would have been denied access to the revolutionary prosthesis made by Bedford’s BiOM. That’s because the government health insurer won’t reimburse patients for the cutting-edge device, which can cost as much as $150,000.

“Bionic integration and how electro-mechanics attach to the body and [are] implanted inside the body are beginning to bridge the gap between disability and ability, between human limitation and human potential,” BiOM founder Hugh Herr, a robotics professor at the Mass. Institute of Technology and a double amputee, said during the presentation at the TED conference.

The most important point in Herr’s presentation may have been a little-noticed reference to Medicare.

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Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President of Ortho Sales Partners and Partner for The De Angelis Group. He also serves as Co-Founder and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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