The Wall Street Journal Health Blog picked up on one of presidential candidate John McCain's remarks at this week's "town hall" debate with Se. Barack Obama. It came near the end of an explanation of his healthcare-fix proposals. Remember what he said?
"…All of those people will be covered except for those who have these gold-plated Cadillac kinds of policies. You know, like hair transplants… I might need one of those myself.”
William Parsley, a dermatologist who is president of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, a nonprofit group of about 700 hair-restoration doctors world-wide… laughed out loud at McCain’s remark.
Parsley said that only hair restoration as part of reconstructive surgery necessitated by severe burns, serious injuries and accidents is customarily covered by insurance.
Such reconstructive surgeries account for about 1 to 2% of hair transplants performed, he said. What about the gold-plated health insurance, we asked. Ever see any of that? Yes, he said, twice in 34 years of practice that insurers paid for a patients’ cosmetic hair transplant. The most recent instance was two decades ago, though.
Are we alone in withholding payment for hair loss? Parsley says no, cosmetic hair transplants aren’t covered in countries with government-run health systems. “They don’t even offer that in Canada,” he said.