State To Cover Workers’ Weight-Loss Surgery
Wisconsin will pay for bariatric surgery for state employees starting in 2020.
Starting in 2020, the state of Wisconsin will start paying for weight-loss surgery, leaving only a handful of states in the country that don’t cover the procedure.
“I’m a big believer in making it available to patients,” said Melina Kambitsi, who had bariatric surgery 10 years ago when she was taking two medications for her diabetes. Since then, she has gained some of the weight back, but said her blood sugar is under control.
Prior to having surgery in Pennsylvania before moving to Madison for a job as a health insurance executive, Kambitsi said she tried dieting, acupuncture and working out.
“It’s an important component. But unfortunately, where people fail is really their intake,” said Kambitsi, explaining that many people underestimate the amount of food they eat and being active can’t always counteract that.
Dr. Luke Funk has done research on obesity in Wisconsin, which has been going up in recent years. Most concerning, he said, is that obesity is going up fastest in young adults — a trend seen nationwide.
Historically, a lack of insurance has been a major barrier for patients, said Funk, who’s an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.
A consultant for the state Department of Employee Trust Funds predicted not all public workers with a high BMI would want weight-loss surgery, but the additional cost in claims for those who did seek treatment would be between $1 million to $3 million.
Kambitsi said she hopes the state’s action will prompt more employers in Wisconsin to consider changing their benefit plans to include bariatric surgery.
“Many of the self-funded employers are not covering bariatric surgery and yet they spend a lot of money on wellness,” she said.
Listen to the WPR report here.
State Of Wisconsin To Cover Weight-Loss Surgery For Workers was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.