WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The case of Cameron Underwood who underwent a costly face transplant was the first ever to be partially supported by insurance.
- Underwood’s fast recovery period from face transplantation significantly helped in reducing the costs of his medical bills.
- Further, his operation was also supported by insurance, contrary to past cases which were paid by research grants.
A 26-year old suicide survivor was given a second lease on life after going through a groundbreaking operation worth $1.5 million to restore his face. What’s more, his case made history as the first to be partly covered by insurance.
In June 2016, Cameron ‘Cam’ Underwood from Yuba, California tried to commit suicide by shooting his face hours after drinking alone.
On January 8, 2018, eighteen months later, he underwent the most advanced face transplantation at the New York University Langone Medical Center. So far, Cam’s case was promising in every respect- one, for being the person who has gone from injury to face transplant for the shortest time. And second, his case was also the shortest recovery period since the procedure was invented in 2005.
Additionally, even the team of doctors led by Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez was able to shave off 10 hours of the time it took them to perform the transplant; from 35 down to 25 hours. Moreover, Cam’s swift recovery made everything less costly. He was out in three weeks which was significant for the cost.
The most surprising part though was getting support from insurance.
Before Cam’s surgery, research grants have fully financed all other face transplants. In Underwood’s case, insurance paid one-third of its bill, while the remaining 66 percent was paid by a research grant and NYU.
“In the field of face transplants, it takes a pioneering effort to make it happen,” NYU Langone Health Face Transplant Program administrator G Leslie Bernstein told DailyMail.com.
For surgery insurance coverage, codes for every element of operations are listed. Insurance providers assess all the elements of the surgery that can be covered, and accordingly offer a quote.
Although face transplants have its own unique elements like layering donated skin and tissue from a person onto the patient, it also has procedures that are present in other elements of plastic surgery such as cutting a jaw bone or connecting blood vessels.
Bernstein and her team designed a plan where various elements of the surgery are also featured in other operations.
“Face transplant as a whole is like bringing together a series of codes,” says Bernstein.
She also added that they constructed a picture of what the surgery would look like. Questions were asked when the case was billed out.
“We never expected 100 percent of the surgery to be reimbursed; commercial insurance is typically 30 percent,” she added.
Bernstein and his team hope that Cam’s case would be a precedent and eventually open doors for other patients who don’t have access to care or funds.
Source: Daily Mail