Insurance Coverage Criteria for Femoroacetabular Impingement Surgery: Are They Responding to Improving Evidence?


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Background: With the rapidly growing body of FAI literature in the last decade, improved evidence exists to support FAI surgery. However, it remains unclear how well third-party insurance company's FAI policies have adapted over time to improved evidence. The purpose of this study was (1) to compare the 2020 FAI surgery criteria of four major insurance companies utilizing a multi-center cohort of FAI patients undergoing surgery to identify rates and causes of ineligibility, and (2) to compare the rates of approval based on changes in policy from 2012 to 2020. Methods: Four major insurance companies' coverage policies with specific criteria for the surgical treatment of FAI were applied to this population at two time points (2012 and 2020). The policies listed various combinations of age, symptom duration, radiographic signs of FAI, radiographic signs of osteoarthritis, and physical exam findings. A prospective, multi-center cohort of 712 patients (including 45.5% males and 54.5% females with a mean age of 28.7 years) undergoing surgical treatment of FAI was utilized for analysis of insurance policies. Results: Based on 2020 FAI policies across 4 insurers, 22.5% (range 18.4-28.4%) of FAI patients would be deemed ineligible. In 2012, the average percent exclusion of the four companies was 23.7%. The most likely reason to be excluded was either failure to meet imaging criteria (alpha angle >50° or positive cross-over sign) [13%, n=94]) or the absence of an impingement sign (9%, n=65). Other causes of exclusion were <6-month symptom duration (6%, n=44), age <15 years (4%, n=28), or skeletally immaturity (3%, n=23). Conclusion: Our study shows that despite a six-year span of growing literature and updated policies, nearly 1 in 5 patients diagnosed with FAI would still potentially be denied coverage. This highlights a continued divide between surgeons and insurance companies. There is a major need for improved consensus regarding the diagnosis of FAI and appropriate indications for surgical intervention.Level of Evidence: IV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-154
Number of pages10
JournalThe Iowa orthopaedic journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • fai
  • femoroacetabular impingement
  • insurance
  • insurance coverage criteria
  • surgery
  • surgical treatment


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