Frequently Asked Questions
Free informational seminars
May I bring a guest to the seminar?
Yes, we strongly encourage our patients to bring a friend or family member with them. They do not need to register.
Can I attend the seminar on behalf of someone else?
Yes, you can also attend a seminar on the behalf of someone else to collect information. However, you will need to use your own name when you register for the seminar.
Am I able to meet with the surgeon during the seminar?
Seminar attendees will have the opportunity to meet VCU Health's bariatric program coordinator, Joelle Lemmons, a registered nurse.
While I'm at the seminar, may I schedule a consultation with the surgeon?
If you attend one of our free informational seminars and decide that you would like to setup a consultation, please call us at 804-828-0045 so we can help you schedule a consultation with the surgeon.
Do I need to bring anything to the seminar? Are there forms to fill out?
No, but we do ask that you register in advance. Please call 804-827-0045 or email email@example.com.
How long is the free informational seminar?
Our seminars are one hour - 30 minutes for the presentation and 30 minutes for the Q&A portion.
Weight loss surgery and insurance information
Where can I find information on weight loss surgery?
You can find information on this site by going to our Patient Resources section. You can also attend a free informational seminar - we would be happy to register you. Another option is to attend one of our weight loss support group meetings.
What procedures are offered at VCU Health?
We offer many weight loss surgery options, including:
- Gastric bypass: creating a small stomach pouch connected to the small intestine in a "Roux-en-Y" fashion
- Sleeve gastrectomy: creating a smaller stomach by removing the outer portion of your stomach
- Revisions to a previous weight loss surgery (such as an adjustable Lap-Band® surgery)
How do I know if my insurance covers this surgery?
Most insurance companies recognize obesity as a serious health issue and will cover the procedure, any complications and follow-up appointments. However, not all insurance companies offer the same coverage, so you will need to talk to your insurance provider for your specific policy coverage.
What if my insurance does not cover weight loss surgery?
VCU Health offers competitive self-pay plans for weight loss surgery. Self-pay patients are required to pay at the time of service. Weight loss surgery is a health expense that may be tax deductible. If you are not able to afford the procedure, the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) produces a helpful guide titled, "Working with Your Insurance Provider - A Guide to Seeking Weight-loss Surgery". This guide can help you work with your provider and advocate for your surgery to be covered. Appeals to insurance companies or directly to your employer may reverse a denial of coverage.
Will I have a copay?
Insurance companies and their various plans offer different levels of coverage and their requirements differ too. We suggest that you reach out to your insurance provider to understand your specific policy coverage and what to expect for copays.
Do you provide financial assistance for self-pay/uninsured?
If you don't have health insurance and have limited financial resources, please contact our Financial Screening Department at (804) 828-0966 to determine eligibility before scheduling a clinic appointment. Once the financial counselors receive all the required information, it may take six to eight weeks for completion of the process and a decision.
How do I get a letter of necessity?
All insurance requires this type of letter from either your surgeon or primary care provider before final approval for surgery. Many will just accept your surgeon’s consultation summary note. It is best to ask your insurer directly. Most companies want information pertaining to current weight, height, body mass index, the medical problems related to obesity, your past diet attempt history and why the physician feels it is medically necessary for you to have bariatric surgery. We will provide a sample letter of necessity for you to take to your primary care physician for him/her to sign.
If I do not meet the qualifications for the surgery, what can I do?
If you are not a candidate for weight loss surgery, please schedule an appointment with our medical weight loss team by calling 804-828-9357.
What should I expect at my initial consultation?
Our goals at your consultation include:
- Introducing you to the surgical weight loss team
- Learning information regarding your height, weight, history, medical co-morbidities (medical conditions caused by obesity), previous surgeries, etc. in order to determine whether you qualify for surgery
- Helping you determine which surgery is appropriate for you
- Determining if there is a need for further evaluation prior to surgery (sleep study, cardiac evaluation, etc.)
- Evaluate your dietary needs
How long is the initial consultation?
Every patient is unique, so initial consultations can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on your medical condition(s).
What do I need to bring?
Once you schedule your consult, you will receive an email confirmation with a support services handout and/or link to Emmi®, if you signed up. You'll also receive a health questionnaire which includes a diet journal history and recall.
Please bring your completed health questionnaire, your most current insurance information and a photo ID to your consult visit.
Please also bring all current medications or a list of all current medications you are taking including any over the counter medications.
When you arrive, please make sure to inform the front desk staff of any changes to your address, phone number and all other contact information.
For more information, visit the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery site and/or visit the ASMBS FAQ page.