May 9, 2013

Medicare's Obesity Program Has Problems!

I certainly hope that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) obesity program is productive for some people somewhere. I had blogged about it here. Locally at least, (in the two cities I have checked on), the program is managed by the Bariatric Surgery Departments. This means that for those of us that are obese, we have to expect attempts will be made to moved us away from the CMS obesity program to the surgery program. Great for their pockets and possibly not good for our health.

I have had two appointments that were unproductive. The first appointment I received for April 30 was a sham. I was told the person I had the appointment with was in surgery and would not be available for me. With that, I was given a second appointment for May 6 and sent on my way. When I arrived on May 6, I was told to pay $120 to get into the program. I had not been informed of this and plainly said so. I was told they had no programs to help with the cost and without the money; they would be canceling my appointment. I was handed a letter and another paper that I was to have received in the mail before the appointment. I have received neither.

I commented that this was an effective way of saying they did not want me in the program. I was again told when I paid the $120 I would be evaluated (for what – I clearly fit the CMS program – maybe this evaluation is to determine if I can be moved to the surgery side) and that was all that could be done without the payment from me. Before saying something else that would not help my case, I left. Now that I have been home and emailed a friend that was planning on being in the program in a town east of Rockford, Illinois, I am still angry. He also is not in the program and had an upfront fee of $180 to pay. He says in talking to another friend in a Chicago suburb, he would have needed to pay $240 before he would be in the program. What the @#!&? He said I was the lucky one with the smallest amount to pay. In addition, I have the longest distance to travel (30 miles) as he only has three blocks which he said he walks.

I say this is not right when Medicare makes no statement of additional fees and yet all three of us must pay varying fees to get in the program. Hopefully some people are not facing this or larger fees to take advantage of Medicare's Obesity Program. It would be interesting to find out from others what fees they pay or were asked to pay. I would sincerely like to know and my email is on my profile page or you are welcome to leave a comment.

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