Vol. 2, No. 6 – August 2003
Welcome to our August email Update.
Miss Texas USA Pagent
I’m beginning to write this newsletter in Lubbock, Texas on July 24, having just arrived to begin serving as a judge for the 2003 Miss Texas USA Pageant. All kidding aside, it really is a tough job with over 100 terrific contestants. By the time I finish this newsletter, we will have picked a winner who, we hope will go on to win the Miss USA Pageant.
I really have enjoyed being associated with the Pageant. The young ladies who have participated, as contestants are quite an impressive group not only in terms of beauty but also related to their poise, self-confidence and intelligence. While none of this years contestants have been patients at our Center, we have, in the past, had a number of participants who have chosen us for some fine-tuning, and we have always enjoyed our relationship with these fine individuals.
We will announce the winner at the end of this Newsletter.
Welcome Dr. Peterson
Dr. Steve Peterson is our new Cosmetic Surgery Fellow for the year 2003-04. We are delighted to welcome him. Dr. Peterson’s background is in general surgery with additional training in endoscopic surgery. He is getting settled into Abilene and has made a great initial impression on our staff as well as the patients he is already working with. You can learn more about Dr Peterson on our website www.newlook.org under the section on professional staff. We should have his bio posted by the time this newsletter goes out (hopefully). We have been quite busy so forgive us if we are a bit tardy in this regard.
Insurance and cosmetic surgery
We get a lot of questions about insurance coverage for cosmetic surgery. Of course every situation is difference and we can only try to give some general answers here. Of course the simplest answer is that, for the most part, insurance will not cover cosmetic surgery. On the other hand, there are often exceptions. The final answer is that, since each insurance policy represents a contract between you and the company, you will have to reach an agreement with your insurer based on the terms of the policy. There are certainly many instances where cosmetic surgery overlaps with functional surgery.
Breast reduction surgery is a prime example. This is a very common operation at our Center. In nearly every case, patients have functional problems that are just as important as the cosmetic concerns. Years ago, most cases were covered by insurance companies with little hesitation. The climate has changed now, and it seems that many companies resist agreeing to coverage. How does the patient prevail? Usually it takes persistence as well as thorough documentation of the functional aspects of the problem.
In most cases of mixed functional/cosmetic surgery, the most helpful thing you can do is to enlist the aid of your family physician. Often, insurance companies look to these doctors to serve as “gate keepers” in determining the indications for surgery. Also important is documenting any symptoms you have that are related to the condition for which you are seeking correction. For example, in the case of breast reduction surgery, symptoms of neck and back pain should be clearly documented.
Even if you are initially turned down, don’t necessarily give up. Not infrequently, persistence will win out. Insist on dealing with someone who has authority rather than the initial clerk that begins answering your questions. The higher you go up the ladder, the more authority that individual has to make a decision, and always document every conversations and communication.
Even if the insurance won’t cover everything, it may cover a portion of the cost.
Financing cosmetic surgery – some options
More and more, people are turning to finance companies to help them pay for cosmetic surgery. Financing is common in our society and certainly is an acceptable way to pay for your surgery so long as you do not overextend yourself financially. There are a number of companies that specialize in health care financing. With today’s record low finance rates, consumers are also benefiting in the form of low financing interest rates, which can make financing even more attractive.
With competition among credit card issuers at an all time high, it is now possible to take out credit cards with highly attractive initial interest rates. Several of our patients have used this option to finance their surgery. Generally speaking, these cards are only available to individuals with good credit, and there can be significant penalties for late payment. Since there is no penalty for closing out the card, it can be a worthwhile option to take out one of these cards just to finance surgery. Remember to read the small print first, and above all, don’t borrow money that you can’t afford to repay.
Congratulations to Stephanie Guerrero, Miss Houston USA and the newly elected Miss Texas USA. We wish Stephanie good luck in her quest for the title of Miss USA.
That’s it for this month. As always, we appreciate your feed back.
Howard A. Tobin, M.D., F. A. C. S.
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