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South Carolina to cover obesity surgery next year

Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP, August 16, 2010

Obese government workers in South Carolina can get stomach-shrinking surgery through the state health plan under a pilot program that starts in January. The state's employee insurance plan will cover gastric-bypass or Lap-Band surgery costs for 100 people statewide on a first-come, first-serve basis, said Stephen VanCamp, director of the employee insurance program. The surgeries - which involve either surgically creating a smaller stomach or shrinking intake with a belt-like, adjustable device - cost about $24,000 each. Lawmakers required the test program in the 2010-11 budget as a way to address the state's growing obesity problem. The Budget and Control Board was directed to create it as part of workers' benefits plan for 2011, which it approved Thursday.