Most cosmetic and plastic surgery procedures are not covered by health insurance in the United States, and fall under the ‘elective procedures’ category where the patient must pay for their surgery out of pocket, or pursue patient financing options.
In Great Britain, things are a little different.
The U.K’s National Health Service (NHS) is a government-owned health program that provides healthcare for UK citizens. This program covers the costs of almost all surgical procedures, and also pays for routine exams, check-ups and health-related emergencies. The NHS now pays for cosmetic surgery for select patients, reportedly spending £5.7 million so far for liposuction, breast reduction and rhinoplasty procedures.
According to Cosmetic Surgery Bible, the NHS has covered the costs of cosmetic surgery for over 2,000 patients. Doctors performing the surgeries explain that these procedures are only paid for when cosmetic surgery is needed for medical reasons. There are still rules – for example, a patient would not qualify for the paid surgery if they were suffering from low self-esteem, or if they had general complaints about their appearance – but those who are suffering from severe cases of body dysmorphic disorder, a situation where the person is experiencing extreme psychological distress and impaired social functioning because of their ‘defect’, cosmetic surgery may be covered by the NHS.
The NHS will continue to pay for certain procedures, and reviews each situation on a case by case basis before granting the funds for treatment. Patients who are denied full payment of their proposed treatment still have the option of paying for the surgery on their own, or applying for a personal loan or financing in order to cover the costs of the procedure.
The United States does not operate a program like the National Health Service of the UK, so all prospective patients must find ways to cover the costs. In some rare cases, health insurance plans will pay for bariatric (weight loss) surgery.