Weight Loss Surgery: Why Do So Few Qualify?


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One of the hardest challenges for individuals struggling with obesity is to lose weight. For these persons exercise often doesn't help and neither does dieting. “Yo-yo dieting”, where weight is temporarily lost and then regained, can make weight problems worse.

The weight loss industry continues to be made up of companies pandering non-FDA approved pills and questionable programs with short term success...but few long-term testimonials. The result is an industry that reaps billions of dollars in profit off of the frustration and disappointment of millions of overweight and morbidly obese Americans.

The one medical alternative that many wish to turn to is weight loss surgery. However, many find that they simply cannot have the procedure. In fact, many obese individuals are unable to qualify for weight loss surgery.

The reason is that unfortunately surgery to help individuals lose weight tends to not be covered by a number of health insurance providers.

The amount of patients who have had surgery for weight loss reasons has remained steady at past few years, hardly going above 160,000. Roughly 18 million adults in the U.S. physically qualify; the issue is getting coverage that can make the medical procedure happen.

Dr. John Morton is a professor of surgery at Stanford University. He is concerned with the dismissive manner in which surgery for weight loss is treated.

"If we were talking about breast cancer, no one would be content with having only one percent of that population treated.”

Morton feels that obesity-related health problems greatly impact life expectancy.

Morton considers obesity, “by far one of the most dangerous conditions we have in public health."

If this is the case then why don't more health insurance companies feel the same way?

“All major surgeries are risky,” says Susan Pisano who is a spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans. “This one is life altering, and if there is an approach that's less invasive and less risky for the patient, you want to try that one first.”

It is true that there are major health risks associated with weight loss surgery, but for many Americans who need it, the option isn’t available, even as a last resort.

Image via Wikimedia Commons