Covering weight loss surgery can benefit health insurance companies

While insurance companies don’t see bariatric or weight loss surgeries being covered under health insurance policies anytime soon, surgeons argue that patients undergoing such surgeries out of medical problems should exempted.

“We have had a few such patients who have pursued and received reimbursement as they could establish that the surgery was not done for medical purposes,” said Dr Ramen Goel, bariatric surgeon, Bombay Hospital.

Officials from Appolo Munich Insurance Company said weight loss surgeries are inadmissible in their insurance coverage.

Dr Renuka Kanvinde, senior manager of health administration team, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, said: “In the last 8 years, we’ve reimbursed medical expenses only in 3 or 4 bariatric surgery cases. We are not looking at covering weight loss surgery under health insurance,” said Dr Kanvinde.

“We are approaching the underwriters of insurance companies to make them aware how covering weight loss surgery can benefit them. Patients who undergo such a surgery may not require knee replacements and procedures such as angioplasty or bypass, thus reducing the liabilities of the insurance company,” said Dr Goel.

Insurance agents said many insurance holders want to opt for such surgeries but can’t as their insurance does not cover it. “As obesity leads to various ailments, insurance companies should start accepting these claims. I am not aware of any company having honoured a claim for bariatric surgery. Alert patients should approach the court,” said Sanjay Parekh, vice president, General Insurance Agent Association.

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