Adherence of US Insurance Payer Policies to the American Society of Radiation Oncology Stereotactic Radiosurgery Model Policy

Comron Hassanzadeh, Michael Roach, Keith Rich, Patty Karraker, Clifford Robinson, Jeff Michalski, Stephanie Perkins, Jiayi Huang, Christina Tsien, Christopher Abraham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The medical necessity of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is nonuniform across insurance policies. The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) created a model policy based on the consensus of the radiation oncology community to communicate medically necessary indications for SRS. We compared the current insurance policies for SRS with those of the ASTRO model policy. Methods and Materials: We identified 58 insurance payers and 3 national benefits managers with SRS policies. Among these, 7 insurance payers were excluded for policies that were not reviewed after 2015 and for not detailing individual medically necessary indications. For each of the indications listed in ASTRO's model policy, we determined the proportion of payers that considered SRS medically necessary. We compared these proportions for national versus regional payers and policies updated in the last 12 months versus those updated less often using Fisher exact and χ2 tests. Results: All insurance policies reviewed considered SRS as medically necessary for brain metastases, medically refractory trigeminal neuralgia, and arteriovenous malformations. Compared with national payers, regional payers were less likely to deem other schwannomas, and a boost for large cranial or spinal lesions medically necessary (P < .05). The indication with the lowest coverage was medically refractory movement disorders (44.4%), followed by medically refractory epilepsy (33.3%). However, policies that were updated within the last year were more likely to deem medical necessity for epilepsy, movement disorders, hemangioblastoma, pineal gland tumors, and other schwannomas. Conclusions: Significant discrepancy remains among insurance policies for several indications in ASTRO's model policy for SRS; however, national payers and those with recent policy updates have a greater concordance with the ASTRO model policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e250-e254
JournalPractical Radiation Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


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