Does Health Insurance Cover Mole Removal?
Moles come in various sizes, shapes, and locations. In some cases, they can be prominent and unsightly enough to cause embarrassment. But, beyond a cosmetic measure, mole removal can also be a medical necessity.
Whether or not mole removal is covered by health insurance depends on the terms and conditions of your particular policy. In most cases, if your doctor deems the mole precancerous or atypical, your health insurance will cover the costs of the biopsy and subsequent mole removal.
However, if you are asking to get a mole removed for “vanity,” it is considered an elective procedure and most health insurance companies do not offer coverage for such decisions.
What is a Mole?
A mole, also called a melanocytic nevus, is a cluster of cells at the skin’s surface that has dark pigment or melanin. Usually benign, they come in different sizes and colors. Some moles are flat while others are raised.
Moles normally manifest in the first year of your life and most people have an average of 25 moles on their bodies. Sun exposure increases the number of moles.
Additionally, there is a genetic component to moles. Some families run higher risks of carrying dysplastic or atypical moles that are closely associated with a higher incidence of skin cancer.
The number of moles on your body is directly proportional to the risk of developing malignant melanomas. This is why doctors strongly advise the use of sun protection and minimal exposure to direct sunlight.
The Cost of Mole Removal Surgery
Mole removal costs will vary depending on two factors: the nature of the mole and the doctor. Since every dermatologist will have a different fee structure, there is no single dollar amount for mole removal. More importantly, the price will vary depending on the size, shape, and location of the mole, as well as the complexity of the mole removal procedure.
For example, a very small mole that is on a largely unseen part of your body will be removed or shaved off simply without requiring sutures. However, a larger and deeper mole will need layered closure with sutures, which is more complicated and time-consuming.
Mole removal procedures also have a pathology cost associated with them. It is imperative that moles being considered for removal, irrespective of size, be checked for malignancy. If your dermatologist is considering a medically indicated excision, then your health insurance company should pay. If you are opting for an elective procedure to remove a clinically benign mole, you are likely to have to pay out of pocket.
Depending on the complexity of the procedure, mole removal costs can vary between $100 and $500. Pathology charges are usually extra and will cost at least $75.
Is It Important to Monitor Moles?
It is very important to monitor moles. It is even more imperative if you are given to tanning, are constantly exposed to the sun, or have a family history of skin cancer. Malignant melanomas, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, usually develop in or near a mole, which is basically a densely pigmented area of your skin. If you notice any changes, such as an increase in size or variation in shape, you must go to your dermatologist to get it checked out.
If your doctor has suspicions of malignancy, she will either suggest a biopsy or mole removal, depending on what your insurance company requires. Some health insurance companies require a biopsy before removal.
How Are Moles Removed?
Moles can be removed using one of two procedures. One procedure is to use excision or cutting with or without sutures, while the second procedure is excision with cauterization or the use of a tool that burns away the mole. The procedure requires the cleansing of the skin using antiseptic material, followed by anesthesia. Mole removal is done under local anesthesia.
In a simple cutting without sutures, the surgeon uses a scalpel to shave off the mole, which is followed by cauterization. The wound is then dressed and the patient is given care instructions. If the mole is really dark and flat, the surgeon focuses on an increased area around the mole and is likely to use cutting with sutures.
After cleaning and numbing the area, the surgeon removes the mole and the surrounding area. Depending on how concerned the surgeon is about the mole being cancerous or precancerous, a larger area might be removed.
If the mole had penetrated deeply into the skin, the surgeon will have to close the wound using stitches that can be absorbed by the body. If the wound is restricted to the surface of the skin, the stitches used will have to be removed after healing. Depending on the doctor’s preference, this is done after eight to 21 days of the surgery. Post-surgical care includes keeping the wound clean and covered. Patients are given antibiotics to prevent any form of sepsis. Usually, the patient can leave the doctor’s office almost immediately and do not need to return unless stitch removal is required.