Bariatric surgery continues to be a viable option for many people suffering from obesity. And celebrities continue to be the shill for the procedure, even if they’re bringing good news that bariatric surgeries help you lose weight quickly when it’s necessary.
Outside celebrities, though, we’re also starting to hear about obese kids and teens getting the procedure done long before they turn 18. Perhaps you’ve heard the startling story of an obese two-year-old boy in Saudi Arabia who had a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. While stories like that have created some alarm about kids having bariatric surgery at such a young age, what’s the track record on health insurance covering it?
In order to find the answer, you have to look back to a recent American case of a 12-year-old girl who needed to have a gastric bypass to help save her life.
Insurance Flip-Flopping on Bariatric Surgery for Kids
The above story happened in Texas and to a girl name Alexis Shapiro. Due to a glandular health issue that resulted from a brain tumor, this 12-year-old girl’s appetite increased exponentially. Subsequently, she became too obese for her age, and it began to adversely affect her physical health. When her parents decided that a gastric bypass might be able to help solve her problem, their insurance company initially balked at paying.
Mind you, this was a military insurance called Tricare that’s usually reliable for covering most things. It’s not surprising they initially decided to not cover it when the thought was that having a gastric bypass at age 12 contained too many unknowns on the consequences. Yet, after the family decided to take up private donations to help pay for the gastric bypass, the insurance company relented and decided to cover it after all.
Their reasoning behind it isn’t known, though they perhaps read some reports about how well teens are doing after having bariatric surgeries. With Tricare’s reversed decision, is it the beginning of all health insurance covering bariatric surgeries for obese kids with no options?
The Inevitability of Obesity
Even though reports are out this year that obesity in preschool kids may be slowly reversing, it doesn’t take away from the reality of other kids and adults still being obese and getting worse. Insurance companies may eventually be forced into covering bariatric surgeries for kids as it becomes more of an option in order to save our next generation from raising the national mortality rate.
If most insurance companies balk at it for years to come, obesity could still eventually lead to a health care crisis like we’ve never seen before. Regardless, with the small example from Tricare on why insurance should cover it, everyone having bariatric surgery will still need education on the realities. No matter your age, bariatric surgery requires plenty of personal commitment in streamlining your diet with exercise afterward to avoid relapses.
Once education about the realities of bariatric surgery becomes more plentiful, insurance may be more apt to cover it for those underage. It may save an entire generation of people from dying many decades before they should.