Type of Surgery

Introduction to Foot and Ankle Surgery

Last updated: 02/23/2009

Foot and ankle surgeons do their best to keep us walking, running, and moving around with ease. The foot and ankle are interconnected with other structures such as the hips and knees, and the highly complex interactions between all these parts makes any procedures more difficult. Tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels trace long and intricate pathways that are sensitive to delicate disturbances; a change in the arch and the curvature of the ankle affects the amount of weight supported by the knee above. Foot and ankle surgeons do a great deal of precision work to address various complaints: traumatic injuries and fractures, arthritis that degrades joints and cartilage, congenital conditions such as clubfoot and webbing, and even minor deformities such as bunions. When we’re on our feet for a significant portion of every day, the role of foot and ankle surgery is to make sure that every second is as comfortable as it should be.
Cost of Foot and Ankle Surgery
As stated above, the complexities of foot and ankle surgery make every case unique.¬†Estimated or ‚Äúaverage‚ÄĚ costs for a procedure are almost impossible to give, since it is rarely a question of addressing the same problem or set of problems for every patient.
For example, a fractured bone in the foot or ankle often requires surgery to heal correctly. In 2000, the US Bureau of Labor estimated the average cause of trauma to the foot from workplace accidents to be $6,000. However, this seemingly simple procedure is oftentimes complicated by the possibility that the nature and location of the injury will decrease circulation to the whole area, or pinch nerves and blood vessels. Depending on how severe the fracture is, it may well cost several thousands of dollars more. Even the relatively straightforward task of removing a bunion can cost over $10,000. To get a true estimate for your foot or ankle surgery, you need a careful and detailed consultation with your surgeon, as well as a full package of tests and x-rays.
Insurance for Foot and Ankle Surgery
The first question you should ask yourself before committing to foot or ankle surgery is whether it is medically necessary. A crushed foot is indisputably in need of surgical attention, but for a good many other common foot and ankle complaints, physicians may recommend nonsurgical methods. Better footwear, proper rest, and physical therapy can cure, or at least alleviate, many complaints.
If, however, other methods have been tested and proven ineffective, then foot and ankle surgery is the logical last step in the process. Read through the fine print of what your insurance company’s coverage policy is, and then, if needed, ask your surgeon and/or physician to write a Letter of Medical Necessity. This should outline the benefits to your health that the desired operation would create, as well as document previous attempts to address your problem with non-surgical means.
In the case that your request is rejected by your insurance provider, you can either immediately submit an appeal that lays out your argument. Alternately, you might then choose to apply for other forms of financial assistance, such as payment plans offered by your surgeon’s office.

Last Updated: 02/23/2009

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