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Patients often must finance a tummy tuck to make the operation more affordable because health insurance does not cover cosmetic procedures.

Personal loans and “in-house” payment plans are the primary options for people who lack sufficient cash to start right away. Meanwhile, patients with bad credit should polish up their income and employment records.

Combining your abdominoplasty with a related medically necessary treatment could reduce costs substantially. Investigate this possibility first to minimize the amount you must borrow or spend to get that fabulous waist profile you always wanted.

Tummy Tuck on Finance

Getting a tummy tuck on finance is the primary option for people who must self-pay and lack cash in the bank. Spreading the average out-of-pocket costs of $6,092[1] out over time makes the budgeting process more comfortable.

The main financing alternatives hinge on where the money goes first.

  1. Loan proceeds deposited into your checking account give you the flexibility to choose the surgeon with the most experience and best credentials
  2. Money sent directly to the surgical center office could limit your choices to providers that offer “in-house” payment plans

Personal Loans

Request a personal loan (Affiliate Link) to fund your tummy tuck surgery. If approved, the lender will deposit the money directly into your checking account. Retire the installment obligation in equal monthly payments spread over one to five years.

The advantage of a personal loan to finance abdominoplasty is that you could have the money in your bank account before choosing the provider. This way, the criteria can be which surgeon is most likely to give you the sculpted waistline and smooth stomach contour you desire.

Payment Plans

Know what is going on behind the curtain when looking for cosmetic surgeons that offer “in-house” tummy tuck payment plans. Most likely, the practice is outsourcing the function to a third-party company that provides funding directly to them if they approve your account.

Would you go to a bank and ask if they performed abdominoplasty? Of course, that would be silly! The two specialties are miles apart. Therefore, expect the practice to refer you to an external organization that might administer one of two popular forms of payment plans.

  1. Medical credit cards are revolving contracts that feature flexible monthly payment amounts and the ability to charge other services as the account limit allows
  2. Patient finance plans are typically installment arrangements with fixed monthly payments that are ideal for one-time medical services

Bad Credit

Tummy tuck financing for bad credit requires that patients overcome their adverse payment history and low FICO score by showing a low Debt-to-Income ratio (DTI).

DTI = projected monthly payments/monthly income

Lenders consider two main factors when making underwriting decisions. If you perform poorly in one area (bad credit), you need to excel in the other (low DTI) to win approval.

Patients with bad credit can achieve a low DTI ratio by manipulating the numerator, while the dominator reflects your current fixed earnings. Three inputs determine your projected monthly payment.

  1. The amount financed (up to $6,000)
  2. The interest rates and origination fees
  3. The repayment length (number of months)

Lenders determine the interest rates, origination fees, and repayment length and often offer the least favorable terms to lousy credit applicants – if they approve them at all. Meanwhile, patients control the amount borrowed.

Free Surgery

Avoid looking for a free tummy tuck if your bad credit history disqualifies you from any of the financing alternatives. A better approach might be to see if your insurance might cover part of the procedure (see below), or try exercise and diet changes instead.

The two common suggestions for free surgery rarely prove viable.

  1. Medical students graduate into surgical residency programs where they receive real-life training as part of a hospital system, which bills full price for services
  2. By definition, donating your extra skin for use in burn units means that you give up your rights for monetary compensation

Medically Necessary Tummy Tuck

You will quickly learn that a tummy tuck cannot be medically necessary except in unusual cases. Therefore, insurance rarely covers abdominoplasty because it enhances appearance (cosmetic) and does not correct bodily function or relieve pain in most cases.

However, your insurance could pay a portion of your costs when performed on the same day and place as another operation that does correct bodily function or relieves pain. If so, your plan could cover specific shared expenses.

  • Anesthesiologist fees
  • Surgical center charges

Panniculectomy

Your health insurance might cover some of your tummy tuck costs when the surgeon performs a medically necessary panniculectomy on the same day. This treatment removes the pannus, a large flap of skin that may droop over the abdomen, genital area, and thighs after extreme weight loss or pregnancy.

Insurance often pays for the panniculectomy when the loose skin causes chronic irritation and or infections that interfere with daily living.

The prime advantage of this combination strategy is one surgeon can perform both procedures, making it easier to coordinate and setup. Also, both operations affect one area of your body.  

Breasts

Your health insurance might pay for all or none of your tummy tuck expenses when combined with a medically necessary breast operation performed on the same day. Three mammoplasty motivations can result in differing levels of coverage.

  1. None: Breast augmentation is typically classified as cosmetic when performed to alter the appearance of normal tissue
  2. Share anesthesia and surgical center fees: Breast reduction where you meet body mass index (BMI) requirements and can show specific symptoms (pain, numbness, skinfold irritation)
  3. Full abdominoplasty coverage: Breast reconstruction that borrows belly fat and skin after a mastectomy for the treatment of cancer

Hernia Repair

Your health insurance will likely cover portions of your tummy tuck expenses when performed at the same time as a medically necessary hernia repair. A hernia is a bulge where bodily tissue pushes through the wall of muscle meant to hold it in.[2]

An untreated hernia can lead to increased pain and the risk of infection or necrosis of any strangulated intestines, which is why insurance typically covers the surgical repair. Then, because most occur in the belly or groin area, the plastic surgeon can conveniently perform two tasks with one incision. 

C-Section

Your health insurance might cover a portion of your tummy tuck expenses when you combine it with a medically necessary Cesarean Section. Since many women schedule their C-sections in advance and know the exact date and time, a cosmetic surgeon can complete the process after the Ob-gyn delivers your baby.

However, this option has significant downsides.

  1. A C-tuck (abdominoplasty and C-section at the same time) extends your recovery period making it more challenging to care for a newborn
  2. Going under the knife months after your final C-section would entail two sets of anesthesia and facility charges and not yield savings

Hysterectomy

Your health insurance could cover some of your tummy tuck costs when you combine the procedure with a medically necessary hysterectomy. Your doctor might recommend the removal of your uterus to treat specific conditions such as fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse, abnormal bleeding, and cancer.[3]

However, this alternative could wind up costing you more because a hysterectomy typically requires a hospital stay of one to two days. In contrast, abdominoplasty is often performed in an out-patient setting. Having both operations in a hospital setting usually means higher charges, which could wipe out any savings on shared fees.

Back Aches

Getting your health insurance to cover a tummy tuck to relieve back pain and incontinence is a long-shot, but could be worth a try because the plan might pay for the entire expense rather than just the shared fees of a simultaneous procedure.

The Healthcare.gov definition for medically necessary reveals the pros and cons of this angle of attack.

“Health care services or supplies needed to diagnose or treat an illness, injury, condition, disease, or its symptoms and that meet accepted standards of medicine.”

  • Pro: Back pain and or incontinence could be the symptoms of a medical condition (excess belly fat and diastasis recti) that the abdominoplasty might alleviate
  • Con: The standard of care for incontinence begin with pelvic floor exercises and graduates to stimulation devices, while core strengthening and then drug therapies are the benchmarks for back pain

Have your cosmetic surgeon submit precertification to your insurance company and include a written narrative explaining why the first-line therapies were unsuccessful.

Insurance Companies & Abdominoplasty

Asking whether a particular insurance company or plan covers tummy tuck surgery is a flawed strategy for reducing costs. Combining the cosmetic procedure with a medically necessary operation is a better bet – because you will find little meaningful variation in claims rules across public agencies and private corporations.

Medicaid

The key to getting Medicaid to cover some of your tummy tuck expenses follows a similar strategy of combining the operation with a medically necessary procedure such as a hernia repair or hysterectomy.

You might be able to get Medicaid to pay for much of the anesthesia and surgical center fees. However, you will have to self-fund all of the charges from the cosmetic surgeon – which makes things unaffordable for most recipients.

Medicaid is a public health insurance program for low-income families with few resources. Paying the remaining abdominoplasty fee of $6,092 (average total price) out-of-pocket is not feasible for patients meeting federal poverty guidelines. Therefore, following a strict diet or another non-surgical alternative might be a better way to lose belly fat.

Blue Cross

Divining Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) tummy tuck coverage follows a familiar pattern with an extra twist that makes little difference in the end. Most BCBS plans classify abdominoplasty as a cosmetic procedure. Meanwhile, they could pay benefits for shared resources only when combined with a medically necessary treatment such as hernia repair or hysterectomy.

Blue Cross Blue Shield is a national federation of affiliated companies using this trade name. BCBS is thirty-six different independently operating local organizations rather than one – and each entity can issue many other plans with unique claims underwriting rules.

Therefore, direct your coverage questions to the organization administering your BCBS plan. You cannot find a satisfactory answer online about how hundreds of independent designs might handle a particular claim. 

Footnoted Sources:

[1] Plasticsurgery.org Average Cost

[2] University of Michigan Medicine

[3] Womenshealth.gov – Hysterectomy