The Stars and Stripes ran an article titled, “Nip and Tuck: Sometimes on the Military Buck!” and it caught my eye.
I was a military dependent and I know how hard it was to receive medical treatment – even when necessary. So, what’s all the clamoring about elective surgeries?
The military has a strict code: “It does not pay for unnecessary plastic surgery.”
But, who determines what is necessary and what is unnecessary?
A recent audit of patient records by the Pentagon revealed that more military doctors are performing breast augmentations, liposuction and tummy tucks. The Navy Commander, James Ellzy stated that “It raises concern.”
There are plenty of plastic surgeons on the military payroll. They specialize in treating troops who have been maimed in war time activities. Necessary plastic surgery is provided for soldiers free of charge. No one can argue that it is deserved.
The problem arises that many dependents, retirees and even servicemembers themselves are opting for elective surgeries.
The investigations revealed through 2008 and 2009, a total of 16 percent of all the cosmetic surgeries should have been categorized as elective surgeries. This does not include those who are breast cancer survivors and opted for reconstructive surgery.
There were also discrepancies in roughly three quarters of the billings – where patients are supposed to pay upfront before the surgeries are scheduled.
Citing privacy concerns, the Pentagon would not release which hospitals or how many patients or doctors were involved. Since our government, Senators and Congressmen and congresswomen are entitled to military doctors, I wonder how many of them have taken advantage of the system? Then again, Congressmen get free haircuts too!
Tricare, the military management healthcare system, offers a great deal of flexibility in determining whether or not plastic surgery is medically necessary. Take for instance the soldier who requires breast reduction to fit into their military armour. The surgery is determined ‘cosmetic’ in the civilian world but Tricare considers it necessary. It’s not the reduction that bothers me, it’s the augmenting of those who have not undergone a medical procedure. The strictly ‘cosmetic’ enhancements – those are the ones that trouble me.
So, the next time you are watching the news and you think that your government representatives look a little younger, a little fuller or appear slightly better than usual; perhaps they’ve enjoyed a makeover – courtesy of your money!