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There have been recent alterations to the Medicare Benefits Schedule ( MBS ) that are likely to result in changes to the way varicose leg veins are treated and, also, the cost of that treatment. These changes mean that funding for surgery has been dramatically reduced and a move to non-surgical techniques is a likely consequence.
Because of decreased funding to treat varicose veins, the major public hospitals in Adelaide and throughout Australia are only accepting patients for treatmentif there are significant medical complications from their veins (such as varicose ulcers). At the present time, cosmetic treatment for varicose veins is not considered a reason to go on a public hospital waiting list in Adelaide.
This move is likely to affect the availability and cost of having leg veins treated.
Treatment for varicose veins in the private sector is also moving away from traditional surgery. Non- surgical techniques have a number of advantages including less complications, no down time or time off work. The downside of this, however, is that patients are likely to have to pay some out of pocket costs. Medicare funding for non-surgical methods of treating veins is minimal and does not cover the realistic costs of treatment. There is also an argument that the majority (not all) have treatment for cosmetic reasons and, as with most cosmetic procedures, this should not be covered by Medicare.
Spider veins are fine red thread or larger blue veins that can be treated if cosmetically unacceptable.
The only consistently effective method for treating spider veins is a technique called micro sclerotherapy. This involves small injections into the veins that causes them to gradually fade and disappear.
This is a safe and effective way to manage spider veins and involves little discomfort and no down time.
Prior to about 2000 surgical treatment was the only proven method to treat varicose leg veins. This technique usually involves making several cuts in the legs and pulling the veins out. The procedure usually involves a general anaesthetic and some time off work and away from usual activities such as driving.
A CHOICE magazine article from 2014 listed approximate costs for the various procedures to treat leg veins.
Micro sclerotherapy (treatment to blue and spider veins of the legs) approx. $400 - $500 per treatment
Surgery – approx. $2000 plus hospital and anaesthetic costs. Rebates can vary depending on private health cover
Ultrasound guided sclerotherapy - $800 - $1000 per treatment. Rebate $95 - $200 depending on the Medicare safety net.
EVLT and RFA (endovenous laser treatment and radiofrequency ablation) $2500 - $4000 per treatment. Medicare rebate is $460 per treatment.
When assessing the total cost of treatment, it is important to enquire about add on costs such as additional consultation fees, costs of obtaining ultrasound scans and number of treatments required to treat your veins.
The cost of micro sclerotherapy is $450 with a possible rebate of $95 on some legs.
The cost of ultrasound guided sclerotherapy is $950. The Medicare rebate is $95 - $200 dependent on the safety net.
The cost of UGS is an all-inclusive cost and covers all consultation fees, scanning and follow up.
One treatment of UGS is required to treat the varicose veins on one leg.
No GP referral is required for any of our treatments.