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Bariatric surgery could save insurance companies billions of dollars each year

Think of this: An alcoholic man is diagnosed with pancreatitis, or liver disease, and the only way to cure him is to do surgery, and maybe even dialysis or a transplant. His health insurance would most likely cover this kind of treatment, as well as the follow-up hospital visits, and possibly subsequent addiction treatment, such as at the American Addiction Centers. People applaud that man for admitting to his addiction and wanting to seek help.

Being obese doesn't mean sitting and binge-eating all day.
MaryJane Harrison
Insurance companies refuse to cover weight-loss surgery
Getty Images

If a woman smokes for most of her life and then in her 50's develops lung cancer, or another form of smoking-related disease, then it is very likely that her health insurance will cover treatment (immediate and on-going), including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and if needed, transplant. People applaud that woman for trying to quit and get healthy.

A drug addict using heroin or cocaine has severe psychotic episodes as a result of their 'habit', but their health insurance would step in and most likely cover hospital treatment and addiction treatment for as long as is needed. People applaud that person's request for help.

An anorexic girl is dying from malnutrition, and is refusing to eat, but admits to being ill and needing medical intervention. Her insurance would likely cover the cost of hospital treatment and months, if not years, of psychiatric therapy. People applaud her bravery for asking for help.

Now think of this: MaryJane Harrison is, like millions of other Americans, obese because of a poor relationship with food. She's personally gone out on a limb to get help, be it joining Weight Watchers, Slimming World, following a low-cal/low-fat diet, counting calories, exercising, and keeping a food diary, but due to the excess weight, she starts suffering with arthritis, and other inflammatory joint problems, as well as the possibility of long-term heart issues that could result in a stroke or cardiac arrest, and almost certainly high blood pressure and diabetes.

But when this woman steps forward, accepting responsibility for the lifestyle that led her to being so unhealthy and asking for outside help, not only is she refused by her insurance company for weight-loss surgery, but the public steps out from under their respective rocks and actually throw insults at her, damning her for "being lazy", or "not moving from your desk", or "just stop eating like a pig".

Now let's look at how much MaryJane alone is costing her insurance company each year. She has high blood pressure, so needs daily medication to keep it under control, sleep apnea for which she is prescribed a CPAP machine, degenerative bone disease for which she requires regular prescription pain medication. On top of all this, she is insulin resistant, which is one step away from being diabetic.

In three years, MaryJane has calculated that her insurance company has paid out a total of almost $180,000 on medications, surgeries, doctors visits, hospital visits, physical therapy, and countless other costly procedures, all related to her weight.

Logic and common sense would allow anyone the correct assumption that by agreeing to fund MaryJane's (and millions of others like her) bariatric (weight-loss) surgery, insurance companies would be saving billions of dollars each and every year by reducing the number of weight-related diseases and disorders.

It's not free. It's not coming out of tax-payers' pockets, pensions, personal insurance funds, etc. It is a collective amount of finances that MaryJane herself, along with her husband, have paid into their insurance policy over the years. But the answer each time has been "no, we don't cover that."

So MaryJane has been forced into having to ask for financial help from friends, family, and social network sites, explaining how this is likely her last option in trying to shift the weight and lead a longer, more active life. What she has been met with are snide remarks, sarcastic comments, and downright hateful insults from various Facebook, YouTube, and internet users in general, many completely ignorant to how much better off both she and her health insurance company would be if they would agree to fund her surgery.

Without a doubt, the billionaire pharmaceutical companies play a major part in the refusal to help someone who has exhausted every other means of helping themselves. If an insurance company foots a $15,000 bariatric surgery bill, then the drug manufacturers, doctors, surgeons, etc, would make less money off the multitude of prescriptions and procedures required by someone like MaryJane, because weight-loss would almost certainly reduce her risk of further weight-related problems, as well as diminishing her need for blood pressure medications, joint pain, or sleep apnea.

Why refuse to pay out $15,000 in surgery, when in just 3 years they are paying out on up to $180,000 for one person's medical issues alone?

For more information about MaryJane and her life, and fundraiser, please click here.

'Save The She-Beast' support T-shirts available here.

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