I am asked by many patients why Focal Laser Ablation (FLA) is not yet covered by insurance, and how soon it will be. As with all new treatments, the problem is complex. Many factors go into approving reimbursement for a new treatment approach: who is making the decision, what standards and processes they use to make it, lack of financial support for clinical trials and evaluative research, the role of the courts, and the implications of healthcare reform for technology policy.
As you might imagine, it’s a long road to establishing insurance reimbursement and applying it universally and fairly by both public and private insurance.
However, while a few baby steps have been taken on this road, the word is already getting out about MRI-guided FLA for prostate tumors. This is huge! I recently wrote about one of my FLA patients who contributed his personal account to a cancer support site. It is very powerful for one potential patient to read the confidence another patient has in a relatively new treatment. I am grateful for the conviction of my patients who, in many cases, have had an uphill battle against their own urologists to make the decision for FLA. I am even more appreciative when they “go public” in a way that encourages other patients to at least find out if FLA might be right for them.
This month I want to acknowledge another person, Dr. Geo Espinosa, who has posted an entry on “Dr. Geo’s Natural Health Blog” under the Prostate Cancer tab. According to his bio, Dr. Espinosa is the Director of the Integrative Urology Center at New York University Langone Medical Center. Before joining NYU, Dr. Geo was a clinician, researcher and director of clinical trials at the Center for Holistic Urology at Columbia University Medical Center. He is a licensed naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist and Certified Nutrition Specialist. I recommend subscribing to his blog at www.drgeo.com. After he observed a procedure, we had a great meeting. He is energetic, enthusiastic, and passionate about men’s health, a commitment we share.
I discovered that Dr. Espinosa and I are both excited over the harmonious fit between targeted ablation of prostate tumors coupled with holistic lifestyle practices that are clinically demonstrated to promote cancer resistance and inhibit tumor growth. I instinctively felt that, when it comes to treating prostate tumors, we are kindred spirits who espouse the same values.
I applaud Dr. Espinosa’s willingness as a medical professional to “go public” about FLA’s contribution to qualified patients in particular, and men’s health in general. The more word spreads, the more patient demand increases; and the more this happens, the more patients will bring constructive pressure to bear on the forces that determine reimbursement. I foresee the day-hopefully not far off-when FLA will be available and affordable for all appropriate patients, and I thank Dr. Espinosa for lending his pen.