Posted on July 6, 2010 in Latest News, Sleeves
For all you guys wondering what is going on with the Sleeve Gastrectomy in terms of insurance coverage and new research, here’s the scoop:
Insurance coverage: United Healthcare and Aetna (large mainland insurance companies) now cover the Sleeve Gastrectomy under standard NIH criteria. Medicare and local insurances still are reluctant to follow suit, but my guess is that they will do the same in the next year or two.
Basic Science: We have always thought of the Sleeve Gastrectomy as a restrictive procedure, where weight loss is acheived through limiting the amount of food intake. But this category is probably too simplistic. Ghrelin, a hormone produced in the stomach that signals hunger and fullness, is significantly reduced after this procedure. Also, people with diabetes see immediate improvement after this surgery which is most likely due to rapid transit of food to the ileum, initiating hormones that alter glucose metabolism.
With Medicare reviewing its coverage criteria for the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, ASMBS, has decided to update its Position Statement. The ASMBS is the society that represents bariatric surgeons and is also responsible for setting up the Centers of Excellence (COE) Program. Up to now, ASMBS held the position that the Sleeve looked “promising” with early and intermediate follow up data, and that the procedure should be studied more, before a final recommendation for its use would be made. The new statement to be released considers the sleeve as a viable alternative surgery option to the Band and Bypass, and that the SLEEVE CRITERIA FOR COVERAGE SHOULD BE THE SAME AS FOR THE BAND AND BYPASS. This is a great step in the right direction for increasing options for surgical weight loss patients. All of these procedures have their distinct advantages and disadvantages. This should help us match an operation more closely to a patients’ expectations for improved health and weight loss.