After some recent rule changes applicable to patients with Medicare coverage, the Archives of Surgery January issue reports that the majority of Medicare patients that undergo bariatric surgery are experiencing much better outcomes. Many Medicare patients are undergoing minimally-invasive weight loss procedures in order to start the weight loss process, simply because these procedures are covered by insurance.
Accrding to the report, “the increase in bariatric surgery resulted in increasing scrutiny by third-party payers and the media with regard to the safety of bariatric surgery.”
The National Coverage Determination (NDC) for bariatric surgery was issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in February 2006 to cover the costs of bariatric surgery for patients older than 65. These patients are permitted to pursue treatment from any bariatric surgery center certified by the American College of American Surgeons (ACS) or the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).
Researchers and doctors at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center have compared the outcomes and effects of hundreds of bariatric surgery procedures performed on Medicare patients since the introduction of the new plan, and have found that most experience excellent outcomes and effects from their procedure. During the study, a total of 6,264 patients underwent bariatric surgery , and after the implementation of the NCD, the volume of gastric banding procedures doubled with a significant difference in overall effects.
Experts conclude that even though only Medicare beneficiaries were part of this study, minimally-invasive procedures may be just as effective for people who are not covered by insurance. Currently, gastric banding surgery is available at hundreds of weight loss clinics and bariatric centers around the country. Patients interested in pursuing this type of weight loss procedure need to set up a consultation with a board-certified bariatric surgeon in their area.