Dr. Erich Anderer discusses the impact of a single payer system in spine

Written by Alan Condon | October 22, 2019 | Print  |

Erich Anderer, MD, is chief of neurosurgery at NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn and assistant professor of neurosurgery at NYU School of Medicine in New York City.

Dr. Anderer treats a wide range of spine conditions including neck and back pain, disc herniations, spinal tumors and spine trauma among others. He also performs brain surgery for conditions ranging from trauma to tumors.

Here, Dr. Anderer outlines the impact of a single payer system in spine and the biggest challenges facing spine providers today.

Question: Would a single-payer insurance system help or harm spine practice? 

Dr. Erich Anderer: I'd like to think that the practice of spine surgery — and all surgery for that matter — is payer agnostic. Some payers have adopted approval criteria for spine surgery that make it difficult to account for nuances in disease presentation. If these types of processes become the norm via a more centralized insurance system, it could make it even more onerous for people that really need surgery to get approval to have it done. 

Q: What do you think is the biggest obstacle facing spine providers today?

EA: I think maintaining familiarity with the many options out there for the treatment of spine pain is a challenge, but maybe not an obstacle per se. Everything from inversion tables to yoga, meditation, stem cell injections, and CBD has been touted as a potential treatment option. Because of how common and how life-altering spine pain can be, the field is fast moving and the evidence supporting some of these modalities is scant. That doesn't necessarily mean they should be discounted, by the way. I think it is incumbent upon us as spine surgeons to lead the effort to scientifically validate — or debunk — as many treatment options as possible, for the sake of our patients. Who knows, maybe yoga is the best way to treat grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis?

More articles on spine:
7 big moves for Hospital for Special Surgery in 2019
5 highest paying physician specialties — Neurosurgeon No. 1 at $401k
Dr. Thomas Loftus: How a single-payer system would harm spine practice in the US

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