Weighty Matters

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Feeling Financially Grateful

on March 16, 2014

I’m watched the Chopped – Tournament of Stars tonight. Singer Carnie Wilson was one of the episode’s contestants. She’s part of the trio Wilson Phillips, although in recent years, I’ve seen her more frequently on a variety of celebrity reality shows. She’s also pretty famous for having gastric bypass surgery several years ago. (According to her tonight, 14 years ago.)

I remember a few years ago, she’d gained all of the weight back that she’d previously lost with the wls and went back for another procedure. She had a lap band added to help her lose weight again. I remember at the time thinking that must have been a horrible experience for her — to have fought so hard to lose weight, had success, and then backslid to the point where she needed another procedure.

That is something that I never, ever want to experience. However, she’s a really good example for the rest of us. It can and does happen. We are really never free of the food issues and if, for whatever reason, we no longer manage to stay in recovery, we can gain it all back. I’m glad that she’s still in the fight and hasn’t given up on herself.

The stars on this Chopped tournament are all playing for charities they’ve chosen. When asked Carnie said that she’s playing for the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America, an organization that raises money to fund grants for people who need bariatric operations but they either don’t have insurance, or their insurance won’t cover the procedure and they don’t have enough money to self-pay. www.wlsfa.org

*Dragging out my soap box, stepping up* I know that I have a personal viewpoint in this debate, but I firmly and unequivocally believe that every health insurance plan should offer coverage for bariatric surgery. I believe the operation saves lives and, ultimately, saves money for those same insurance companies because it leads to healthier lifestyles in the patients. *Stepping off of the soap box*

I have a decent health insurance plan, but mine didn’t cover the weight loss surgery. When I found that out, I was both bummed and disappointed. Then, the reality of my particular circumstance took over and I was overwhelming grateful. I had enough money in investments that I could pay for the operation out of pocket. The hospital also had a self-pay plan that was less expensive.

Thankfully, all of the tests and evaluations that are required prior to the surgery were typical of diagnostics that a doctor would order to determine conditions in an obese patient. I blew through my high deductible pretty quickly and every other procedure was then fully covered by my insurance.

For me, finances did not enter into the decision as to whether I could move forward with the operation that would finally help me successfully battle my super obesity. That is not the case for everyone. I personally know someone who thinks about having the surgery but he doesn’t have the right insurance plan or the savings. Just yesterday, someone else I know came up to me and asked if she could talk to me about my surgery. She recently went to an orientation/workshop to find out more. Her insurance plan will cover bariatric procedures if she qualifies under certain conditions such as her BMI or the presence of a co-morbidity for more than two years. She wants the surgery and is crossing her fingers that she’ll qualify.

Looking back, I am even more grateful today than I was at the outset of the journey when I first began investigating the procedure. I cannot imagine if my greatest chance for recovery, for regaining my health, for saving my life wasn’t possible because I didn’t have the money.

After the show tonight ended, I went online to look at this Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America. They’re a 501 (C)(3) charitable organization so my donation was tax deductible. They seem to be legitimate and have awarded several grants to people for the bariatric surgery itself and some for the reconstructive surgery afterward. Carnie Wilson is now one of their ambassadors. They’re having a fund raising event in Florida in April, but unfortunately I have another commitment that weekend or I would go to check them out in person.

The WLSFA does not seem to be a giant organization but appear to be growing up from grassroots. I’m grateful that they exist so that others who need help can get it.

**** Edited to Add ****
When I woke up this morning, I’d received an email from one of the WLSFA founders, Antonia, to thank me for my donation. She also wanted to make me aware of the Tampa event in case I could attend. Nice gestures on both counts! We chatted a little via email and she clarified something that I did not have right, based on my research. Antonia told me that Carnie Wilson did not gain back all of the weight that she lost after her first wls and that she has maintained a 100 pound weight loss for 14 years — even after two kids. Good for her!

Antonia also told me more about her organization. They are indeed grass roots and have funded 11 surgeries so far with two more scheduled to be funded in April. She then said that they are 100% volunteer driven with no paid staff. I work for a nonprofit organization and serve on the Board of Directors of two others. Accomplishing all they’ve done on a totally volunteer basis is impressive indeed. Thanks for the additional info, Antonia!

3 responses to “Feeling Financially Grateful

  1. BarbN says:

    what a great oganization, thanks for telling us about them.

  2. hoperoth says:

    They changed up our insurance at work a couple years ago. They don’t cover WLS (or in-patient mental health services or a bunch of other stuff) anymore. It’s not an issue for me, but I thought it was a real shame that they’d cut the benefit like that. I figured it would be better for the insurance company’s bottom dollar if they covered it.

  3. Mary Stella says:

    Friends, I just switched the URL for this blog to the easier to manage http://www.marysweightymatters.com. If anyone has issues responding or anything else, would you please shoot me at email at mary@mary-stella.com? Thanks!

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