Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a new and promising solution for the problem of treatment-resistant depression. If your depression hasn’t been alleviated by medication and therapy, TMS might be right for you. 

Of course, you’ll want your depression treatment to be covered by health insurance.

If Cigna is your health insurance provider, look no further: we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Cigna, TMS, and when it can be covered for you. 

We’ll also give you a background on how TMS works and when it might be time to give it a try. 

What Is NeuroStar Advanced Therapy (TMS)TMS?

TMS stimulates the area of the brain that is underactive in those that experience depression. Little magnetic pulses are administered to the brain to create more activity in that area.

Part of what makes NeuroStar Advanced Therapy TMS such a revolutionary treatment is its specificity. When you take oral medication, it is absorbed into your bloodstream and will affect your whole body. NeuroStar TMS targets only the main problem area: your brain.

TMS can sometimes get a bad reputation because people confuse it with electroshock therapy. However, these two treatments are very different. Unlike ECT, TMS is painless and will not affect your cognition. 

NeuroStar TMS is a non-invasive procedure; during a session, you’ll only feel a slight tapping on your scalp. You won’t need to be sedated at all and will be able to drive yourself to and from your appointments. 

Usually, the first round of NeuroStar TMS treatment is administered in 36 sessions over the course of about 7 weeks.

Don’t worry; TMS can easily fit into your schedule since each session takes only 19-37 minutes!

There are very few side effects associated with TMS. While many medications can cause nausea, headaches, dry mouth, and a host of other issues, TMS carries none of these risks because it only targets the brain, not the body. 

If you think you might need a new kind of treatment, there’s no reason not to try TMS. It is FDA-cleared, safe, and proven to be effective!

Who Benefits From NeuroStar TMS?

NeuroStar TMS is approved for patients with treatment-resistant depression. This condition affects 10-30% of depression patients.

Treatment-resistant depression has various causes and is defined by Cigna as persistent depression after two failed trials of antidepressants and a failed trial of psychotherapy. 

Currently, the Cigna TMS policy only approves treatment of major depressive disorder without psychotic features. TMS can treat a single episode of depression or recurring ones. 

You’ll need a formal diagnosis before seeking insurance coverage for NeuroStar TMS treatment. Thankfully, you can easily use Cigna’s website to find a psychiatrist covered under your insurance plan. 

In short: if you’ve tried therapy and two or more antidepressants without depression relief, you will likely benefit from TMS treatments.

You might want to try NeuroStar TMS even if you are getting relief from antidepressants. That’s possible too! Since antidepressants can often have unsavory side effects, you should consider switching to TMS because it has very few, if any.

Cigna does consider unwanted side effects, or “intolerance to medication,” to be a valid reason that an antidepressant trial might fail. It doesn’t necessarily have to fail due to continued depression symptoms.

If you’re unhappy with any effect of your medication, don’t be afraid to tell your doctor and ask about NeuroStar TMS instead.

Cigna and NeuroStar TMS

Good news! As of 2020, the Cigna TMS coverage policy includes treatments for depression. There are just a few criteria you need to meet to make sure they’ll approve your request. 

As mentioned earlier, you will need to have already tried antidepressants and therapy. However, if you’re looking into TMS, there’s a good chance you’ve already tried those things anyway. 

You will also need to get treatments from a NeuroStar Provider with an FDA-cleared device. 

That’s all you need to get covered for an initial NeuroStar TMS treatment. TMS is often administered more than once, and Cigna has more criteria that you must meet for them to cover repeat treatments. 

Cigna requires that you take depression screenings before and after each TMS treatment to make sure they’re covering something worthwhile. This will help you too; why waste time on a depression treatment that isn’t working?

To continue covering your TMS treatments, Cigna requires that you show at least 50% improvement after your first session and that you continue feeling better for at least two months. 

More Than Just Depression

While treatment-resistant depression is the primary target of TMS treatments, it can greatly relieve other problems. TMS has shown promising results in patients with anxiety, OCD, and migraines. 

Cigna does cover TMS for these conditions as well, though you may need to have your doctor obtain prior authorization first. 

The Cigna TMS guidelines for these conditions are similar to those for depression. Because Cigna does not consider TMS to be the first line of treatment, your condition must be treatment-resistant for them to cover it. 

This means trying multiple medications without success and therapy, if that applies to you. In the case of migraine treatment, you don’t have to worry about the therapy step. 

TMS may prove to be helpful for even more conditions as time goes on. It is currently being investigated to treat addictions, ADHD, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, and many more ailments. 

Feel free to contact Cigna any time for updates on what conditions they have approved for TMS treatment.

Revitalize Your Treatment Today

Now that you’ve learned all about Cigna TMS coverage, you can better decide whether or not TMS is right for you. Talk to a TMS provider and your doctor to find out more. 

Living with depression or any other chronic illness is never easy. Don’t be afraid to try a new approach and watch your quality of life drastically improve!