Effective Jan. 1, 2011 South Carolina is going to launch a “pilot” program to offer free Gastric bypass surgery or Lap-Band surgery to 100 of the State’s most obese government workers who are covered by the State’s health insurance plan. Certainly SC has their share of obese people. In SC, two thirds of the state’s residents are overweight or obese. Gastric bypass surgeries can cost up to $24,000 each.
Today, the State Budget and Control Board approved the pilot program setting aside more than $2,000,000 to fund the program. What is the purpose of this “pilot” plan? How will the program work and what are its qualifications? Should SC be offering this program when it is in such a pitiful financial state?
What is the Purpose of South Carolina’s New Pilot Plan in Jan. 2011?
SC plans to pay upfront for 100 of the most obese State workers to have gastric bypass or lap-band surgery in order to monitor their progress over a course of 18 months to see if the benefits outweigh the risks of the surgery. There are many serious risks and side effects associated with this type of surgery. Some of them are infection, blood clots, pneumonia, bleeding ulcers, and development of gallstones, according to MUSC. However, there can also be benefits of gastric or lap band surgery including lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, reduced or alleviated sleep apnea, reduced workload of the heart, and lower cholesterol levels. SC wants to determine if the results of the surgeries leads to overall health savings.
How will the SC Pilot Program for Gastric Bypass and Lap BandSurgeries Will Work?
Effective Jan. 1, 2011 the state will be divided into regions and offer among the regions a total of 100 free surgeries on a first come, first served basis. There will be qualifications an individual must meet before being considered. To qualify, the individual must have a BMI of at least 40; and undergo both medical and psychological exams. For instructions on calculating your BMI or (body mass index), click here.
Should SC be Offering 100 Free Gastric Bypass and Lap Band Surgeries Now?
My personal opinion to this question is absolutely not! First, where are they getting this money from? There is no mention that this program is going to be funded by stimulus money, or at least I can’t find it if it is. So that means to me that the taxpayers are going to be paying for this. In a year where SC has cut funding to education numerous times, forcing school districts to furlough employees, cut programs, and eliminate positions, and with the SC Unemployment still hovering between 10-11% (even after spending thousands of stimulus dollars to “create” jobs), how can legislators justify spending $2.4 million dollars on free Bypass surgeries? What will SC do if a number of these surgeries fail or even cause the death of the recipients? Are they making our State libel and likely to be sued? The success rate for gastric bypass and lap band surgeries is not great, and often the results depend on the individual’s ability to follow the restrictive eating habits, including self-control they have to practice after the surgery to keep the stomach shrinking surgery from reversing itself. I believe a large number of obese individuals are lazy and unmotivated to get moving or they have an addiction to food, just like smoking or drinking. I’m not saying all are this way, certainly a number of individuals obesity issues stem from other medical problems. But these cases, I believe are the minority.
A better way for SC to tackle obesity is to provide free gym memberships and food addiction counseling for those who can’t control their eating. I would love to hear your opinions on this subject. If you are inclined to do so, please post your comments and opinions.
Calculate Your BMI – Standard BMI Calculator: nhlbi.com
S.C. to spend $2.4 million on weight loss surgeries for state workers – Charleston SC – The Post and Courier – postandcourier.com
personal opinion (included)