Friday, June 7, 2013

Obamacare and Bariatric Surgery

In the last few years, healthcare has been a major topic of debate in the United States. Further, many policy changes have occurred, most notably, the instatement of Obamacare. But what does Obamacare entail? Does it cover bariatric surgery? If you were planning on getting gastric sleeve in Mexico to save money, should you just wait for Obamacare? 

Obamacare is a common term for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The idea behind Obamacare is that access to health is a right and therefore healthcare should be accessible and affordable for all Americans. Many would assume that Obamacare would then make bariatric surgery available to obese people, particularly those suffering from a co-morbid disease. If you are looking forward to using Obamacare for bariatric surgery, you might be disappointed. 

Obamacare allows each state to choose whether or not to cover weight loss surgeries like gastric sleeve or lap band. More than 24 states have already decided that bariatric surgery will not be covered under Obamacare, and many of those states happen to have some of the highest obesity rates in the United States, among them being Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas. And this despite the astonishingly high obesity rates. These states have failed to recognize the role weight loss surgery plays in eliminating other diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Even if a doctor recommends weight loss surgery as a treatment for diabetes, heart disease or another co-morbid disease, Obamacare will not cover it in the aforementioned states and many others.

For many states, the decision not to offer the uninsured bariatric surgery under Obamacare is an attempt to keep health insurance premiums low. Experts argue that people who suffer from obesity pay around $1,429 a year more than people at a normal weight, and when bariatric surgery costs insurance companies and Medicare around $42,000 a person, there is no financial benefit to cover weight loss surgeries.

What are Your Options?

If you live in a state where Obamacare will not cover weight loss surgery, unfortunately you cannot just travel to a neighboring state which provides coverage for the procedure. If you could, then the solution would be simple. Instead, if you want weight loss surgery and live in a state where Obamacare will not cover it, then your options are:
·         Pay the full price for bariatric surgery
·         Travel abroad for more affordable bariatric surgery 

For years, many people have traveled abroad for more affordable healthcare for treatments such as bariatric surgery. When you travel to Mexico for bariatric surgery, for example, you can save 40-65% of the total price of the procedure charged in the United States. Because of the ease of travel to Mexico, the country is a popular medical tourism destination with Americans. If Obamacare cannot help you, then it may be necessary to explore affordable bariatric options like surgery in Mexico to help you get your health back on track.

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