July 10, 2013
Dr. Matthew Weiner and DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital are sponsoring a bariatric weight loss surgery for a patient who does not have insurance coverage for this life saving intervention.
It is with great excitement that I announce a partnership between DMC Huron Valley Sinai Hospital and the Michigan Weight Management Institute in holding a contest for a sponsored bariatric surgery.
Dr. Weiner has organized this program to draw attention to the inequities in insurance coverage for bariatric surgery. It would be completely unheard of for an insurance plan to refuse to cover the treatment of high blood pressure or colon cancer, but around 10% of insurance company policies in Michigan do not provide coverage for bariatric surgery.
Because the disease of obesity has long been considered the result of poor decisions and a lack of commitment and willpower, there has been little support for those who suffer from this debilitating disease. As the science of weight gain and weight loss advances, it is becoming clear that obesity is as much a disease as high blood pressure, heart disease, and even cancer.
First, it is clear that there is a subset of people who are uniquely susceptible to the weight gaining effects of our processed food environment. Second, we are beginning to understand the role of medications, stress, depression, injury, and environmental toxins in driving weight gain – all factors that have nothing to do with willpower or commitment.
Those who suffer from the disease of obesity understand that there is much more to weight gain than the sum of the calories that are ingested each day. Those who are lucky enough to be genetically resistant to weight gain are often quick to point out all the personal attributes that allow them to maintain their lean body; however, science offers another viewpoint on the role of their DNA in preventing unwanted weight gain.
Without question, the single best long-term treatment of obesity is bariatric surgery, yet more than 10% of all insured citizens of the state of Michigan do not have coverage. Many people question the wisdom of a surgical intervention for the treatment of obesity; however, surgeons have long found themselves on the front lines of public health crisis. Surgery was once the only effective treatment for tuberculosis infection and to this day, heart disease is primarily treated with procedures as opposed to lifestyle modification. The science is clear on the relative success of bariatric surgery compared to lifestyle modification for weight loss. What’s even more concerning is that for many who suffer from obesity, even lifestyle modification will not result in successful weight loss.
Dr. Weiner and Huron Valley Sinai Hospital hope to draw attention to this discrepancy in insurance coverage by offering a surgery that will allow people to follow a patient through their pre-operative evaluation and counseling, surgery and recovery, and most importantly long-term success. We will accept submissions from anyone who meets the criteria for bariatric surgery (having a BMI more than 40, or more than 35 and suffers from high blood pressure, sleep apnea, high cholesterol or diabetes). The submission process will include an essay allowing the participants to explain how this surgery will change their life. Some of the essays will be published. All those considered will meet with Dr. Weiner for a consultation and a finalist will be selected and offered a bariatric surgery with all expenses covered for one year.
It is our hope that this will demonstrate the severity of the disease, the impact on people’s lives, and the multidisciplinary support that is available at Huron Valley Sinai Hospital.
In good health-
Dr. Matthew Weiner