SA Medical Aids Now Pay for Weight Loss Treatment
More and more people all over the world are seeking weight loss treatment as obesity becomes a bigger and bigger problem. These days being over-weight is no longer associated only with the wealthier countries. Worldwide obesity has doubled in the last thirty years.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that nearly 3 million people die every year around the world due to being overweight or obese.
The Profmed Medical Scheme says that in South Africa about 60% of the population is obese. To make matters even worse, nearly 80% of obese people and about 50% of dangerously obese people regarding themselves as being totally normal.
The definition of obesity is that there is too much fat in the body in relation to the person’s total mass and this can have a negative impact on the person’s health.
A rough guide to the ratio of fat to other components of the body is the Body Mass Index (BMI) method. Here the person’s height and weight is used and then compared to average weights of adults. A person is considered to be overweight if the BMI is equal or more than 25. He or she is regarded as being obese if the BMI is equal to or more than 30. A count of 40 or over is considered to be morbidly obese.
Or one can measure the obesity of a person by measuring the circumference of the waist.
Experts agree that obesity is a complicated matter. They have also identified many contributing factors.
- A person becomes overweight when he or she consumes more calories than are required or expended. In addition, dietary preferences have changed to more energy dense food that is high in fat and salt.
- Also people lead more sedentary lifestyles. More people work at desks and fewer work at manual labour.
- Improved transport systems mean that people walk around much less.
- A person who is obese has a greater chance of developing chronic diseases such as high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, asthma and cancer.
Medical Aids and Weight Loss Treatment
Despite the fact that obesity is a major health issue, many medical schemes consider weight loss treatment, and in particular surgery, to be a cosmetic procedure and therefore they do not cover the costs.
However, in South Africa there is a definite trend to medical aid schemes paying for all or part of weight loss surgery such as bariatric surgery. There is a rider to this: the patient’s doctor must have asserted that it is medically necessary for the surgery to take place in order to preserve the patient’s health.
Bariatric surgery itself is expensive and the process of removing excess skin following the surgery, which is a plastic surgical process, is often overlooked. In addition, the patients will require counseling and vitamin supplements following the surgery.
- Discovery Health does cover bariatric surgery on the Executive and Comprehensive Plans, with preauthorization.
- Bonitas pays for bariatric surgery on morbidly obese patients on a similar basis.
- Momentum Health, Medshield and Metropolitan Health also cover the costs of bariatric surgery under certain conditions but you should check with your medical scheme to discover the ins and outs of their requirements.
Being overweight is largely preventable and curable but it requires a complete lifestyle change, which many people find difficult. Diets need to change and people need to exercise more. If this is not enough then people should consider having weight loss surgery in order to preserve their health.