At the beginning of this journey, I had absolutely no clue about the cost or insurance. They sent the referral to the surgeon in November 2015 and I was promptly denied by my insurance company. I called to talk to the doctor’s office to see about self-pay or financing options. Um, $36k was a little hefty of a price tag. Getting denied this first time was probably the best thing that could have happened. It gave me the time to do my research to understand what I was getting into, and the starting point was talking to my primary care doctor.
She’s been along for the ride with me since about 2004. When I told her I was referred for surgery, she seemed encouraging. She thought with all of my metabolic challenges (more on that later) it might be a good option, saying it’s a tool, not a cure. That’s a phrase you hear a lot in the weight loss surgery community. It’s just a tool.
She started working with me and the weight loss center to pull together all of the documentation of my ongoing (and expensive) medically managed weight loss efforts, plus documentation of all of my co-morbidities that needed to be present for me to meet the insurance qualifications for surgery. All of this documentation was submitted, then promptly denied.
I decided to file an appeal following the insurance appeal process and addressed bullet point by bullet point all of their reasons for denial. Within a week, I was approved to take a 2 session nutrition class, which was biggest waste of time ever, but it was a requirement. By this time, it’s March. Within a few days of attending the last class, I got a phone call from my primary care doctor saying she had met the surgeon they would refer me to at a presentation the surgeon provided for the staff in the office. They briefly discussed my case and following that, I was instructed to go to a seminar to learn more.
I attended her seminar April 4 and learned so much more about the genetic and metabolic connection to obesity. I got enough information to change my desire to have the sleeve surgery to having gastric bypass, and I got into the queue for an initial consult. Until they have approval from the insurance company, no appointment. It was within the week that I heard back that I was approved for the consult only and scheduled it for mid April.
The appointment was over an hour. I was able to ask my big huge long list of questions and Mike was able to get some reassurances about safety and complications (more on THAT later). We talked about my history, my knowledge of high protein, low carb living, all the efforts and work I had done. At the end of the appointment, she said I was a good candidate, waived the requirement to do nutritionist supervised weight loss, waived the requirement to have a psychological evaluation and set me up with a number of pre-surgical tests pending final insurance approval for surgery.
As I worked through each of the tests and requirements, the doctor submitted her statement of medical necessity and I was approved for surgery at the beginning of June.
I am exhausted just thinking about all that I had to go through.