Will Medicare cover Abdominoplasty and Skin Reduction Surgery?
Posted on: September 28th, 2018
Medicare Benefits Schedule (also known as MBS) Item Codes, Definitions and also Criteria for Plastic Surgery changed as of November 2018.
The changes affect your rebate eligibility, for skin reduction surgery (after weight loss) or Bariatric Surgery.
Brachioplasty, Abdominoplasty or Belt Lipectomy and Revision Rhinoplasty patients may have also been impacted.
The government previously made other changes to the MBS in relation to post-pregnancy Abdominoplasty. This resulted in it Post Pregnancy Abdominoplastys no longer being covered by an MBS item code, however, post-weight loss skin reduction NOT related to pregnancy remained on the MBS. Patients meeting strict criteria about body mass changes and skin reduction needs, also remained on the MBS.
Medically Indicated Plastic Surgery and MBS rebate changes
These MBS changes will NOT impact Cosmetic surgery patients.
This is because cosmetic surgery is NOT covered by Medicare.
Nor is most Cosmetic Plastic Surgery covered by private Health Insurance Companies such as BUPA, AIH, Australian Unity, NIB and other recognised Australian health funds.
However, some Plastic Surgery procedures are corrective or restorative in nature, such as skin reduction after Bariatric Surgery or lifestyle changes resulting in significant skin folds after weight loss.
These usually have an MBS item code and also often have some hospital coverage, DEPENDING on your HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN.
Furthermore, surgeries performed by Plastic Surgeons that are medically indicated CORRECTIVE and RECONSTRUCTIVE Plastic Surgery, even though they may have some aesthetic benefits, are performed for reconstructive purposes. For example, surgery to restore natural contours or reduce skin infections, back pain and neck pain caused by excess skin folds or redundant heavy tissue weight.
Specialist Plastic Surgeons usually perform both COSMETIC and/or CORRECTIVE/RECONSTRUCTIVE Plastic Surgery.
For example, a purely Cosmetic procedure might be liposuction of the thighs, a facelift or breast augmentation.
While a Corrective Plastic Surgery procedure might be skin reduction of excess skin folds post-obesity (arms, stomach, thighs), breast reduction to reduce back pain/neck pain and shoulder pain, corrective Rhinoplasty/Septoplasty, Eyelid Surgery for severe ptosis, Breast Lift for ptosis after pregnancy or weight loss, and other similar procedures.
These MBS items may be changing on 1 November 2018. If you were previously covered, you may no longer be eligible.
Note that your Private HEALTH FUND policy such as BUPA, AIH and Australian Unity can change too.
Changes have also occurred to Health Fund Policy Classifications and Private Health Coverage for surgery in terms of redefining classifications. This is so consumers better understand their policies, exclusions and coverage.
The Government is seeking to ensure consumers actually UNDERSTAND what they’re buying. And, that they know what is and isn’t covered. This is due to the fact that current policies are confusing for consumers and exclusion clauses are difficult to understand, leaving many patients unexpectedly NOT covered for medical warranted procedures.
November 2018 MBS Updates to Plastic Surgery criteria. And, Media Releases.
Moreover, changes to the MBS in the 2018-2019 Budget are NOT limited to Plastic Surgery operations, changes include other areas of medicine, imaging/testing, and various forms of surgery.
Breast Reduction Surgery Patients, Breast Lift Patients, Removal & Replacement of Breast Implants, and Skin Reduction Lipectomy/Abdominoplasty Patients MAY likely be impacted by changing MBS criteria from the MBS Review team.
How MBS definition and criteria changes MAY impact you, as a Plastic Surgery patient.
If your MBS item code is removed or changed in any way you may no longer meet criteria, your private health insurance company is also not likely to cover your hospital or surgery costs. This is because health insurance policies usually only cover procedures that are on the MBS list.
If your MBS Item Code has changed and your condition or surgery no longer meets the criteria, you may become ineligible for a rebate.
Check the latest MBS publication release and phone your doctor, Surgeon and/or insurance company, if you have any questions.
Post-weight loss patients meeting strict criteria including weight loss NOT related to pregnancy – may still have some rebate eligibility for skin reduction after bariatric surgery.
However post-pregnancy conditions typically do not meet criteria.
In a Budget review of health care expenses, the Medicare Benefits Schedule Taskforce and MBS Review TEAM changed criteria descriptions and Medicate ITEM codes (see the 2018-2019 Budget release).
This resulted in:
Changes to the Medicare Rebate Schedule (MBS). Went into effect on 1 November 2018, this IMPACTED several Plastic Surgery operations even though they are corrective, restorative, reconstructive and/or otherwise medically necessary versus cosmetic in nature.
MBS review and Medicare criteria changes for Plastic Surgery operations can potentially impact:
Firstly, Rhinoplasty after an injury, or to correct a deviated septum/breathing problem.