In February of 2018, I made a permanent move to California from New Jersey. I knew I should establish some local doctors and as luck would have it, my chronic knee pain reached levels of pain that required me to seek immediate medical help. Urgent Care didn’t have the resources to check my leg for the suspected Baker’s Cyst or blood clot, so I went to the emergency room and they were both confirmed. Since I have had blood clots in the past, a surgical option was moved to the bottom of my list and I began to pay attention to the Stem Cell advertisements that came to me by way of Facebook. I attended a free luncheon.
The information that I received in April of 2018 was very informative and I was ready to get the treatment. Financially, I wasn’t. It seems that this therapy although allowed to be performed by doctors, was still not covered by insurance. The cost of Dr. Duffner’s therapy was $6,000 and if I committed to the treatment, I would get a $500 discount. I didn’t have the $5,500 at the time, and they were willing to let me go into debt with something called Care Credit. I didn’t take it because I had enough debt already.
I limped along for another two months and met my new “family doctor” and we ran some tests. The doctor had concerns about my blood work and my family history, but he was happy to keep me on my blood thinners. I asked him to refer me to Dr. Duffner for an orthopedic followup, but I never got a call.
My leg got stronger over the next 11 months but I hadn’t been “pushing it”. I wanted to exercise to lose the weight that I had put on and improve my overall health. In May of 2019, I read the Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry. I lost 30 pounds, improved my blood numbers, and my pain in my leg all but vanished. Still, I know that I have some lurking issues in the knee. I decided to visit another Stem Cell Seminar. I figured now that it is being more advertised in the mainstream, the competition alone would bring prices more competitive. I was wrong.
Dr. Olesnicky and Dr. Hashimoto are on TV and the Internet and targeting the population of the Coachella Valley. Their costs are $8,900 for the same Stem Cell Therapy that I investigated a year earlier. The question I had was why wasn’t this covered. My choice, if I were still in pain, would be to use pain relievers. In this era of Opioid abuse, why would insurance companies be fighting this coverage and why is the cost so high? My specific therapy that was explained to me would be extracting my own STEM cells from my own fat and reintroducing them at the appropriate spot to stimulate growth. Why is the cost so high?
I now have access to money and if I were in enough pain, I would do it. I was told that this is the perfect time to do it and a person with my history of blood clots makes me a perfect candidate. Thankfully, my lack of pain gives me the ability to think it through and when I do, I get angry…very angry.
Medical marketing to a population in pain that is largely on a fixed income for the promise of pain relief through intervention that is cost effective comparatively to some other procedures is infuriating. This is a perfect fix for people who are dependent on pain relievers and the refusal of insurance companies to cover this procedure pushes patients into creating the necessity for more expensive and invasive procedures in short order. The amount of marketing through TV and Internet represents an enormous cost to the doctors and the behavior in the office makes it almost predatory. “Get this now and I will discount the procedure…” means it is already unreasonably high to begin with.
I am glad that my pain has subsided for now and I will continue to follow good nutritional practices which Dr. Gundry says will activate the STEM cells to repair damage done by inflammation over the years. He too sells far too many products that are marketed to people who want a quick fix for their weight and health issues. After reading his book, it seems to contradict what he preaches. As Dr. Hashimoto said when I asked him what the medical establishment is doing to solve the insurance issue…”healthcare is a business”. STEM Cells may be the next major step in fixing many of our medical problems…but it seems like it is just bad business for insurance to cover it. I don’t completely understand why because it seems like it would save them money and possibly lower costs to their subscribers. Oh, wait…maybe I do understand after all.