Watching TV the other day I heard a preview for an upcoming news story on a man who was denied skin removal surgery. Curious about this I looked up the article, you can view it here. Kevin Carter, a resident of Newfoundland, lost 175 lbs through TOPS (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly). He did it all himself, no surgery, no gimmicks, just hard work. As a result, he has excess skin which was causing recurring infections, and was referred to have surgery to have the skin removed. The government is now refusing to pay for the surgery, even though his doctor has deemed it medically necessary.
This story really hit home for me as I also struggle with having excess skin, let's say "wings" of skin, that haunt me. I am confident in my body and can wear clothes to hide it well, but I will always know it is there. Its like your body holding onto that old part of you which at times can sometimes be very taunting. I've even heard significantly overweight people say that they don't want to go through losing all the weight because they will be stuck with all the skin, well that's just an excuse! I would never change what I've accomplished, I just work around what my body is now.
Granted i'm slightly biased on this issue on if the government should pay for the surgery or not, but the decision was made. The thing that really bothers me though is peoples comments on this article. One person says "Not on my tax dollar. People like him have burdened our health care system and tax payers for long enough and now they want to burden it again? Ludicrous. If you want to pity him and support him that's fine, but again, not on my tax dollar.". Granted, many people disagreed with this statement, and the vast majority of people indicated that they think the government should cover the surgery, but this comment still bothered me.
Even though I don't know Kevin Carter, I can absolutely relate to his struggle and know just how hard it is to imagine losing 175 lbs. The commenter says how Kevin has been a burden on the health care system for long enough, well I disagree. Obviously he didn't lose 175 lbs overnight, in the time from when he started his weight loss journey he was already less of a burden on the health care system than before. Kudos to Kevin for doing this and accomplishing such an amazing thing. The long term benefits of him going through this weight loss journey will make up for any cost incurred on the health care system. The government offers no incentives for people to get healthy on their own instead of "burdening" the health care system as this commenter says. Instead of option for gastric bypass surgery that may have been covered and be just as costly to taxpayers if not more due to complications, Kevin opted to lose the weight the natural way. In BC the province offers a smoking cessation program where they will pay for prescription smoking cessation drugs or nicotine replacement therapy for any BC resident yet there is nothing in place to assist adults who are improving their health in other ways.
I hope that they reconsider Kevin's request, and maybe the media attention that this story got will be of assistance to him. If not, maybe in the future we will see better incentives for those of us getting healthy and taking an active role in avoiding "burdening the health care system".