More Insurers Cover Sleeve Gastrectomy

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More Insurers Cover Sleeve Gastrectomy

People struggling with obesity may now have more options available to help them lose weight.

Aetna Inc. and United Healthcare, two major health insurance companies, recently announced that they have added laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy to the list of bariatric surgeries that will be covered by their insurance policies.

During a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, a portion of the stomach is surgically removed, leaving a vertical sleeve that’s about 15% of the original size of the stomach. Like other JSAPA Weight Loss Surgery, the sleeve gastrectomy produces weight loss because patients are able to eat less and feel fuller.

Before this policy update, Aetna and United Healthcare, as well as other insurance companies, had already provided coverage for other bariatric procedures, including Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass, Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding, and Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch. However, many bariatric surgeons feel this change is important to provide adequate treatment for obesity. Dr. John W. Baker, President of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, pointed out that, “In the rapidly changing field of bariatric and metabolic surgery, it is important to provide coverage and access to a wide range of proven treatment methods.” The ASMBS is hopeful that other insurance companies will follow suit and expand their coverage policies to include laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomies.

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