Weight Loss Surgery Wait Killing Tasmanians

Weight loss surgery is available through public health care in Tasmania; but the up-to-seven-year wait means some patients are dying from obesity before they can have the operation.

r212676_818971As debate continues about national public healthcare in America, many patients in other countries are waiting years for weight loss surgery. And some of them aren’t living long enough to ever have the operation.

A new report from Australia shows that nearly 400 Tasmanians who are using public healthcare have had to wait up to seven years to have weight loss surgery. During that time, several patients died while waiting – one of them a 25-year-old woman — due to worsening health, according to doctors’ reports.

However, 700 other, privately insured patients in that same region were all able to have operations within three weeks of their consultation.

Some bariatric surgeons in Australia say the public healthcare system is failing its citizens. But Dr. Stephen Wilkinson said his state government could save money in the long run by shifting its financial support toward weight loss surgery. Wilkinson said weight loss would improve the health of many patients and lower future government medical costs. For each obese person granted an operation, he said, the government could save $10,000 over the next three years. More than 13,000 Tasmanian adults are currently eligible for weight loss surgery.

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