More insurance companies are starting to pay for weight loss surgery

AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- Many companies are now offering more wellness benefits to their employees as part of their health insurance packages.

Mental health programs, medical weight loss programs, even bariatric surgery are all programs that many insurance companies are beginning to cover. Starting this month, most Georgia state employees are covered for the procedure.

Many patients are denied weight loss surgery because it was deemed elective or cosmetic surgery. But obesity can cause other serious health problems like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Now, more and more insurance companies consider the procedure medically necessary due to these health risks.

AU Health’s Dr Aaron Bolduc said that in the long run it is cheaper for insurance to pay for surgery than medical conditions caused by obesity.

“I had a patient who received several insulin injections a day. She was able to completely come off her insulin. And it costs, just to improve diabetes and get rid of insulin, that cost is equivalent to surgery after 2 years,” Dr. Bolduc explained.

He thinks one of the reasons insurance companies have taken so long to get into bariatric surgery is the stigma attached to it.

“There has long been a stigma that anyone should be able to cure obesity simply by dieting and exercising, and we have seen time and time again that this is not the case,” did he declare. “You have a few people who are fortunately able to make major lifestyle changes and they are successful.”

To be considered for any weight loss surgery you must have a body mass index of 40 or greater OR
a BMI between 35 and 40 AND health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes or sleep apnea.

Dr. Bolduc advises anyone interested in bariatric surgery to call AU Health. They will check your insurance for you to see if the procedure is covered.

This number is 706-721-4686.

Kristan F. Talley