Bariatric surgery to now be included under health insurances, states IRDAI

Obesity and diabetes are a twin threat and many people across India are affected by the problems which arise as a result of this metabolic syndrome. Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that poses a health risk. A person with a BMI of 30 or above is generally considered obese. When diet and exercise fail to control obesity, people are advised to undergo bariatric surgery


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Such patients can now heave a sigh of relief, as as the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has included bariatric/weight-loss surgery under the insurance cover from October 01. This will benefit countless people who are struggling with obesity and are battling against the bulge.

The move is set to benefit many patients as the prevalence of obesity in the country ranges from 8-38 per cent in rural areas and 15-30 per cent in urban settings.

As per the guidelines, surgical treatment of obesity can be excluded only if the surgery is not conducted on the advice of a doctor, the surgery is done without clinical protocols, the patient is below 18, the patient’s BMI is greater than or equal to 40 or greater than or equal to 35 in conjunction with any of the following severe co-morbidities following failure of less invasive methods of weight loss:

  • Obesity-related cardiomyopathy
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Severe Sleep Apnoea
  • Uncontrolled Type2 Diabetes

My Medical Mantra spoke to a few health experts to gauge their response on this decision taken by IRDAI.  The health experts have unanimously welcomed the move.

Dr Shashank Shah, a renowned bariatric surgeon from Pune, informed, “The government should also undertake obesity eradication awareness program at every level in the society. The government can cover all type of obesity treatment under the government scheme. These treatments should come under insurance cover.”

He added, “Obesity is a disease. It is responsible for the majority of ICU admissions. Diseases like heart-related ailments, kidney failure, dialysis, and blindness; all come with obesity. Obesity is a disease and it should be treated. It is therefore important that it should be included in insurance.”

After the IRDAI’s latest guidelines, every insurance provider in India will have to offer the cover to policyholders who have sought the health insurance policy on or after October 1, 2019. The existing policyholders will be able to avail the benefit from October 1, 2020.

While Dr Satish Pattanshetti, another bariatric surgeon from Pune, stated, “As bariatric surgery will now be covered under insurance even those who do not afford the surgery will now get be benefitted. Also, diseases like diabetes and hypertension which are caused because of obesity can also be kept under check.”