By Kelsey Woodbridge
Dealing with insurance is similar to having to go to the DMV to renew a license; it’s borderline traumatizing. You may not have to take a photo looking like your next mugshot, but you will be transferred an excess amount of times before receiving any kind of answer to your questions. And then, you’re not even sure if you have all the information.
Companies and plans differ but in the end, your insurance is there to cover your payments when unexpected medical payments arise. Insurance is security – an asset when you are faced with unplanned charges.
How does this apply to areola nipple tattooing?
We often get asked, “Is this covered by insurance?” The short answer is: it’s complicated. The shorter answer is: no. We are not in network with any insurance providers, so patients must pay out of pocket for their procedure.
The silver lining: procedures can be filed for reimbursement.
While insurance companies cannot directly pay for the services patients receive the day of their visit, patients are given the information to submit a letter of reimbursement to insurance to get the money back.
Why aren’t medical tattooing services recognized and directly covered under insurance?
Good question, we’re still fighting that one. Medical tattooing is seen as a “cosmetic procedure” that is not necessary. Meanwhile after a mastectomy, if you get nipple reconstruction, it’s covered by insurance. Our company offers 3D nipple tattooing, an alternative to nipple reconstruction that would save insurance companies’ thousands of dollars, but it is not covered.
While some say reconstructing a breast is necessary, a tattoo to add color back to an areola is currently not seen as necessary. Insurance companies don’t have to cover this, and many don’t. If the goal is to provide coverage for procedures that recreate the allusion of a body part that has been taken out, it seems like only half the job is being covered. That’s not good enough.
Men and women that have gone through a difficult illness like cancer and the trauma of losing part of their body, should not have to financially worry about procedures that are provided to help them recreate what they lost. But the legality of the language and the judgements behind tattoos, are causing a hole in the system.
We’ll let you be the judge – is reimbursement a good start?