Patients wishing to consider abdominoplasty are set to lose more than just their tummies as The Department of Health and Ageing removes Medicare funding associated with surgery.
A flat and well-toned abdomen (tummy) is something many of us strive to achieve. Abdominoplasty, or ‘tummy tuck’ surgery, aims to address the loose, excess skin resulting from significant weight loss following diet and exercise, bariatric surgery or pregnancy. The excess skin may be unsightly and can result in irritation, infections and issues with hygiene.
The aim of abdominoplasty is to achieve a firm, flat abdomen with narrowing of the waist by tightening the rectus abdominis or “six pack” muscles. In addition, addressing separation of the rectus abdominis muscles resulting from pregnancy can improve core muscle strength and address back strain. The technique often incorporates liposuction of the flank region to optimize the shape of the hips. The umbilicus (belly button) is usually repositioned and the area of skin above the umbilicus also smoothed out.
The Department of Health and Ageing has implemented changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule as of 1st January 2016 removing and restricting abdominoplasty rebates. These amendments were announced on 15th December 2015 leaving only a few weeks to notify and inform patients that their scheduled procedures were going to cost them a significant amount more than anticipated.
These changes alter this surgical procedure in some cases from being deemed ‘medically/clinically indicated’ to cosmetic status meaning Medicare and Health Funds will not contribute to the cost of the surgery including surgeon, anaesthetist and hospital theatre/bed costs.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) urged for a delay, allowing patients booked particularly in January the opportunity to avoid hefty increases to out-of-pockets costs.
Subsequently The Department of Health and Ageing released a statement:
“In order to assist patients affected by the 1 January 2016 implementation of the amendments, the Minister for Health, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, has determined that patients who committed on or before 15 December 2015 to undergo MBS-rebated lipectomy procedures between 1 January 2016 and 31 March 2016 may claim Medicare benefits under the conditions set out in item descriptors in force before 1 January 2016. “
(Source MBS Online)
Patients booked for surgery between 1st January 2016 and 31 March 2016 who were consented for surgery prior to 15th December 2015 are unaffected by the changes.
Those booked beyond the criteria or future patients considering a tummy tuck are urged to voice their opposition to the changes by lodging formal complaints to the Department of Health and Ageing.
Address your concerns to The Minister for Health, the Hon Sussan Ley MP
Contact details http://www.aph.gov.au/S_Ley_MP
Dr Sugitha Seneviratne and Mr Patrick Tansley will continue to perform abdominoplasty surgery and their focus is to achieve excellent surgical outcomes to the highest international standards in both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. Their primary aim remains ensuring the safe treatment and the provision of unsurpassed patient satisfaction. In order to manage the financial issues related to recent changes in legislation, Dr Seneviratne and Mr Tansley have partnered with private hospitals and have restructured their surgical fees such that the effect of such legislation will be negligible in practical terms.
If you wish to consider tummy tuck, our professional team will be happy to answer your enquiry by calling 03 9088 5000 or by clicking on the enquire about abdominoplasty surgery button on our website or below.
NorthEast Plastic Surgery has been designed to offer Melbourne a bespoke and unrivalled cosmetic plastic surgical service of superlative standard and quality. Dr Seneviratne and Mr Tansley share their Australian and British plastic and cosmetic surgery experience in these educational articles.