gammaCore Coverage for Veterans and Active Military
Headache disorders are a common problem among veterans and active military members.1 More than a third—36%—of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan have been diagnosed with migraine or probable migraine, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.2 Yet headache specialists within the military medical system are scarce and getting migraine treatment can be tough for veterans and active military members.
gammaCore as a migraine treatment option
gammaCore is one treatment option that’s now available through the VA and in military treatment facilities at no charge to patients. If you receive your health care through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Department of Defense, Bureau of Prisons, Indian Health Services, or Public Health Services, the gammaCore could be a treatment for you.
What is gammaCore?
gammaCore is a non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator that has FDA approval as an acute and preventive treatment for both migraine and cluster headache. It “stimulates the nerve’s afferent fibers leading to a modulation of neurotransmitters and a reduction in pain,”3 according to a press release from electroCore, the company that makes gammaCore. It has been extensively researched for 15 years and has no known side effects. It’s portable and easy to use. I’ve personally used the device and it has been a life-changing treatment for me.
How to use gammaCore
When you have a migraine attack coming on, you hold turn the device on and hold it up to your neck while it completes a single two-minute cycle. Then you wait a couple of minutes and do it again. If your migraine attack persists, you can use the treatment again after a time period specified by your doctor. For preventive use, the procedure is the same, but you use it a certain number of times a day (usually three), depending on what you and your doctor decide is best for you.
How to request a gammaCore device
Just talk to your doctor at the VA or a military treatment facility and, if they prescribe the device, they can do the legwork to get it for you. (If you’re a veteran, your provider can order gammaCore through their facility’s prosthetics department. If you’re active military, the order will go through DMLSS. You can contact electroCore’s customer service at 888-903-2673 for more information.) You will need a diagnosis of migraine or cluster headache. electroCore, the company that makes gammaCore, created this short questionnaire to take to your doctor: Talk with your provider about your headache pain.
A personal experience with gammaCore
While I haven’t served in the military, I began using gammaCore in June 2016. With it, I went from getting a migraine attack every time I ate to being able to eat anything I wanted without an attack. I was also able to go from barely working to working full-time and have been able to stop taking all my preventive migraine medications and rarely use abortive medications.
Expanding insurance coverage for gammaCore
When gammaCore got approval in the US, I excitedly shared the news, hoping others would get the same relief I did. Unfortunately, insurance companies have been reluctant to cover the device, so not a lot of people have been able to try it. Now that gammaCore is readily available to veterans and active military personnel, I’m hopeful more people can get relief with it. (And if you don’t fit this category, know that electroCore is working hard to get better insurance coverage for the device. I hope to have more information for you on that front later this year.)
Have you shared your migraine story with us yet?