Changes to accessibility for tummy tucks
By Dr Nicholas Moncrieff
You may have heard that the Federal Government recently made changes to access to Medicare support for abdominoplasty, or tummy tucks.
Unfortunately the Department for Federal Minister for Health announced just before Christmas 2015 that many mums will no longer be eligible for a tummy tuck Medicare number which means health funds will not contribute to funding this procedure.
This is very unfortunate because tummy tucks (abdominoplasty) have been proven to significantly improve back pain and incontinence in women who have experienced muscle separation.
We will continue to contribute a current national study showing these health benefits and hope that the Minister reviews this short-sighted decision which will push more people to cheap surgery overseas with its associated risks for the health of patients and Australian taxpayers who foot the bill when complications arise once they are back in the country.
As a general guide, a tummy tuck covered by a Medicare number and private health insurance is around $12,000 total out of pocket (now only for weight loss patients), while tummy tucks without that coverage is from $17,500.
So who is still eligible?
The good news is that a Medicare contribution to tummy tucks is still available for massive weight loss patients who suffer skin irritation and other issues.
In summary, what do you have demonstrate to still be able to claim a Medicare item number:
• Significant weight loss, defined as 5 BMI points or more, which is not related to pregnancy. So for most women, this will be a weight loss of at least 15kgs. Weight should have been stable for at least 6 months.
• Impacts of the excess skin and tissue impacting on daily life, such as pain when exercising
• Skin irritation caused by the excess skin and tissue that has not responded to non-surgical treatment such as barrier creams
• If you have a hernia which can be documented in an ultrasound, it can also assist in seeking coverage
• All of the above should be discussed with your referring GP and documented in their referral to us.
For more information tummy tucks, please visit our dedicated page or or call our practice on 4920 7700.