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Exoskeleton companies have long been working with healthcare coverage providers to develop general coverage policies for exoskeletons. But many providers still look at exoskeletons on a case-by-case basis.
ReWalk Robotics, a developer of medical exoskeletons for individuals with lower limb disabilities, said it is making some progress with a group of German statutory health insurers (SHI) to allow any eligible beneficiary with a spinal cord injury (SCI) to seek procurement of a ReWalk 6.0 exoskeleton system.
ReWalk told Robotics Business Review the SHIs will coverage 100% of the cost. This includes the trial period for the purpose of training the candidate, which includes the costs of the training at physical therapy site, the costs of the rental unit, and upon successful training, the cost coverage for the ReWalk 6.0 system for home and community use.
ReWalk said this finalized agreement is the first in a series of anticipated national policies from German insurers. After successful training and verification by the medical service, this first agreement will allow eligible beneficiaries to obtain a ReWalk 6.0 exoskeleton for use in the home.
Three beneficiares have already received ReWalk 6.0 personal systems under this new coverage, ReWalk said.
The ReWalk 6.0 personal exoskeleton was added to Germany’s National Health Insurance Agency’s National Medical Device Directory (MDD). This directory includes all medical devices that are principally and regularly reimbursed by German SHI providers.
ReWalk said this was a turning point that enabled any of Germany’s 105 SHIs to pursue national policies for the exoskeleton.
“These policies, which have been in development since our addition to the MDD, will make the procurement process predictable for patients; after successful training and approval for procurement by the insurer, patients will be able to take home a device for daily personal use,” said ReWalk CEO Larry Jasinski. “We are so pleased to get these devices to people who need them more quickly and provide access to life-changing technology.”
In December 2015, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) started covering the cost of ReWalk Robotics’ powered exoskeleton for eligible paralyzed veterans.
ReWalk recently closed a public offering for $7 million. The funding will be used for sales, marketing, and reimbursement expenses related to market development activities for its exoskeletons.
Besides ReWalk 6.0, the company has developed a soft exosuit called “ReStore” that is designed to facilitate gait training for stroke patients. It received CE marking and FDA clearance in 2019. ReWalk is based in Yokneam, Israel, and has offices in Berlin and Marlborough, Mass.