Aaron Carroll and Austin Frakt relate the problem:
Over the past decade, the number of reimbursed eyelid-lift procedures has tripled. The cost to taxpayers has quadrupled, to $80 million from $20 million.
Medicare traditionally avoids coverage for cosmetic procedures such as Botox or breast augmentation (except after medically necessary breast removal). So why cover eyelid lifts? It’s possible that more of the elderly are suffering real vision problems in need of corrective surgery.
But is it likely that a disproportionate number of these patients live in one state? More than half of the 20 highest-billing physicians were in Florida, where one doctor submitted for 2,200 eyelid lifts in 2008 alone.
Their solution: better Medicare oversight.
My solution: Get Medicare completely out of the business of eyelid lifts. Let patients pay for all such procedures from their Health Savings Accounts.