Does Health Insurance Cover HGH Therapy?
Human growth hormone therapy, also known as HGH therapy, may be covered in part by some insurance companies, although it depends on what the therapy is being used for. Coverage also depends on the particular health insurance plan you have, as each has its own set of specific benefits.
When HGH therapy is part of a plan to correct a body’s deficiency in natural HGH levels, a portion of the cost may be covered. When HGH is being used as an anti-aging solution, however, insurance companies are not likely to cover any portion of the HGH therapy bill.
What is HGH?
Human growth hormone, or HG, is a hormone the body naturally produces in the brain’s pituitary gland, as explained by the Mayo Clinic. As the name suggests, the hormone is integral to normal growth throughout childhood. It also plays a role in maintaining organs and tissues throughout a person’s life.
While the hormone kicks into high gear during childhood growth, its production peters out once people hit middle age. Rather than accept aging gracefully, or at all, some people have turned to a synthetic version of HGH in the hopes of maintaining their youthful body and appearance. Athletes have also been known to take HGH in the hopes of maintaining vitality and enhancing their athletic performance.
HGH therapy comes in the form of daily injections. A therapy program may last several years and cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Although pills may be available, there is no evidence that they produce the same results as the injections have been shown to. There is also a lack of evidence as to the effectiveness of any remedies or supplements that say they contain HGH.
Who may qualify for HGH therapy coverage?
Children with deficiencies in their own HGH levels may get the green light from insurance companies to undergo HGH therapy. Pediatric endocrinologists can test children’s HGH levels and recommend the therapy if they believe it may help.
Under such circumstances, The New York Times reported on one family’s insurance plan that covered up to 80% of HGH therapy’s monthly cost. Although 80% coverage is a big chunk of the bill, the therapy does not come cheap. The family was still left with more than $500 to pay each month out of their own pocket to cover the remainder of the bill.
HGH can give kids lacking the hormone a boost so they grow at a normal rate and correct the fragile bones, low muscle mass, and high levels of body fat that typically come with the deficiency. The exact results of HGH therapy are based on factors such as when the therapy began and how long it continues. It can additionally help children who were born smaller than average and still have not caught up to normal size by their second birthday.
Other children it may benefit include females with the abnormality known as Turner syndrome, as well as children with the genetic disorders known as Noonan syndrome and SHOX deficiency. Studies are underway to determine if HGH therapy may also be effective for treating other childhood syndromes and conditions, such as juvenile arthritis and cystic fibrosis. While it was not designed to make genetically short children taller than their DNA programmed them to be, it may still be able to give such children a boost in height.
In rare cases, adults may have deficient HGH levels that are not due to the natural aging process. HGH deficiency in adults may also stem from surgery or radiation treatments, according the Associated Press.
When medically approved, adults may be eligible to receive HGH therapy with some type of coverage from their insurance companies. Adults lacking in HGH who undergo the therapy often find HGH decreases their body fat while it increases their muscle mass, bone density, and capacity for exercise.
People suffering from HIV or AIDs may also be eligible for HGH therapy as a way to help deter the muscle wasting that typically sets in. People looking for a quick fix or solution to ward off the body’s natural aging process do not fall into any of the eligible categories.
What happens if I take HGH and don’t need it?
A wide range of side effects can come from medically unnecessary HGH therapy. Pain in the joints and muscles is at the top of the list of ill effects, along with swelling in the arms and legs. Carpal tunnel syndrome has also been linked to HGH, as has the development of gynecomastia, a condition of swollen breast tissue in men.
While HGH therapy has been shown to increase muscle mass in adults, the increase in mass has not likewise resulted in an increase in strength. HGH may also contribute to heart disease and diabetes, although longer term effects of the therapy are not immediately known.