Aetna Stops Covering Routine Morcellators Due to Cancer Risk

Aetna Stops Covering Routine Morcellators Due to Cancer RiskMay 6, 2015 — Aetna, Inc., the third-largest health plan in the United States with 23 million members, will stop covering routine use of power morcellators, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The changes go into effect on May 15 and will require doctors to get pre-authorization before they can use the device. Aetna said there will be exceptions for certain patients, especially when there are no other options.

Aetna is the largest health insurer to limit approval for morcellators. Nationwide, health plans covering 93 million Americans have already restricted coverage or are considering limits, according to the WSJ.

Several health insurer have deemed power morcellation an “investigational” procedure or “not medically necessary,” which means the procedure typically would not be eligible for coverage.

Last year, the FDA warned that about 1 in 350 women undergoing fibroid surgery actually has undiagnosed uterine cancer. When the spinning blades of a power morcellator grind up fibroids, fragments of cancerous tissue can easily be left behind in the woman’s abdomen.

In November, the FDA warned against the use of power morcellators in the “vast majority of women.” The agency also warned:

“Uterine tissue may contain unsuspected cancer. The use of laparoscopic power morcellators during fibroid surgery may spread cancer and decrease the long-term survival of patients.”

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