AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- Many companies are now offering more wellness benefits for employees as part of their health insurance packages.
Mental health programs, medical weight loss programs, even weight loss surgery, are all programs that many insurances 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 has been considered an elective or cosmetic surgery. But obesity can cause other serious health problems like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Now more insurance companies are seeing the procedure as medically necessary because of these health risks.
Dr. Aaron Bolduc at AU Health said in the long run, it’s cheaper for insurance to pay for the surgery than the medical conditions obesity causes.
“I had a patient who had several insulin injections per day. She was able to come off her insulin completely. And that costs, just for improving diabetes and coming off of insulin, that cost is equivalent to having surgery after 2 years,” explained Dr. Bolduc.
He thinks one reason insurance companies took so long to get on board with weight loss surgery is the stigmas attached to it.
“There has been a stigma for a long time that just doing diet and exercise, everyone should be able to cure obesity, and we’ve seen over and over that that’s not the case,” he said. “You have a few people that are luckily able to make major lifestyle changes and they’re successful.”
To be considered for any weight loss surgery you have to have a body mass index of 40 or higher OR
a BMI between 35 and 40 AND have health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes or sleep apnea.
Dr. Bolduc advises anyone interested in weight loss surgery to call AU Health. They will check your insurance for you to see if the procedure is covered.
That number is 706-721-4686.