Consumer Court Orders Insurer To Pay Woman As Weight-Loss Surgery Not Always Cosmetic
The Consumer Court in Ahmedabad has ordered the insurer to pay Rs. 3.17 lakh spent on bariatric surgery by a patient, stating that surgery need not be of cosmetic nature.
What had happened?
A 64-year-old woman in Thatlej area, identified as Leenaben Desai weighed 102kgs. She suffered from chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease and hyperacidity. Dr Chirag Desai, her physician had advised her to undergo gastric bypass surgery for the mentioned illness along with morbid obesity and fatty liver. She underwent bariatric surgery in May 2016.
The patient had claimed her medical insurance for obesity treatment. The insurance company didn’t oblige to pay her believing the myth that bariatric surgery is for cosmetic concern. Desai approached the Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum in Ahmedabad in 2017 to sue the insurer.
The court asked the company to pay the reimbursement with 8% interest along with Rs. 5000 compensation for causing legal expenditure and mental agony as reported by Times Of India. The court has refused the company’s arguments about their policy that excluded the bariatric surgery as it is not always purely for cosmetic means as various other reasons might turn life-threatening to the patient.
As of July 2017, India stood third in the World Obesity Ranking, with 44,332,755 obese adults – accounting for 4.9% of its adult population.
Bariatric surgery is common in recent years and is suggested for people suffering from obesity. It is a process where the size of the stomach is reduced to control the intake of food. It is done by either removing a portion of the stomach or using a gastric band.
Obesity associated with diabetes, arthritis, blood pressure and sleep apnea syndrome needs surgery and doctors do not encourage people who enquire for cosmetic reasons.
The Logical Indian spoke to Dr G Moinoddin, consultant, bariatrics, and advanced laparoscopic surgeon at Gleneagles Global Hospitals, who said, “Hypothyroid and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are two conditions that lead to weight gain in women. I suggest a surgery when there is no chance for weight loss by other methods like dieting or going to the gym.”
There prevails a myth that bariatric surgery is done for cosmetic reasons for a person to look beautiful, fit and slim but it has a lot of reasons that may turn fatal if not addressed with surgery. Bariatric surgery has changed the lives of many people in India, yet it can’t be a solution for obesity as there is a risk in surgery.
“Skilled surgeons are required as there might be bleeding during surgery. We give counselling before and after surgery. Reduction can’t be seen immediately but within a year,” says Dr. Satish TM, senior consultant, bariatric surgery, Lenus Hospital, told The Logical Indian.