Whether you call it a hallux abducto valgus, or just a bunion, that bony bump on your big toe can be painful and annoying. Bunions are a progressive condition that usually begins with the big toe leaning towards the second toe. With time, a more prominent bump forms and not only causes discomfort but makes it difficult to wear certain types of shoes. In some cases, it affects mobility. There are many different forms of treatment for bunions in the early stages, but if they progress, they may require surgery. If your physician has suggested bunion surgery for your situation, you need to know all about what types of surgery there are, if your Medicare insurance covers it, and what surgery and recovery entails.
What is Bunion Surgery?
Bunions can be surgically removed by a procedure called a bunionectomy. It is commonly done as outpatient surgery, although some people have the procedure done as part of a hospital stay, depending on the circumstances. In most cases, patients undergoing bunion surgery don’t need general anesthetic, only local anesthetic. This local anesthetic is termed an ankle block and it numbs the leg below the ankle.
Because there are many different types of surgery, the one you have will depend on the size of the bunion and how it has developed. The most common bunion removal procedures include:
- Osteotomy. The surgeon cuts the affected big toe’s joint and
realigns the bone into its normal position.
- Exostectomy. The surgeon removes the bunion from the joint but
doesn’t perform an alignment.
- Arthrodesis. The surgeon removes the damaged joint and replaces it with screws or metal plates in order to correct the deformity.
After the procedure, you go into recovery for observation until the anesthetic has worn off. Then, a couple hours later, you usually can go home. After surgery, patients wear a boot or cast to protect the foot and use crutches to aid walking. They gradually give up crutches and sometimes use the aid of a walker as the foot heals.
For most people, general recovery takes between six and eight weeks, and full recovery may take between four and six months. Your physician may prescribe physical therapy after to strengthen the foot and ankle.
How Medicare Can Help Pay for Bunion Surgery
Approximately 35 percent of the population over the age of 65 in the United States has a bunion. The average cost for bunion surgery in the U.S. is around $5,500.00 but can run anywhere from $3,500.00 to $12,000.00. This amount depends on where you live, what insurance coverage you have, the type of procedure, and your overall health.
Medicare Part B can help. Part B includes coverage for medically necessary services and supplies in a doctor’s office or outpatient setting. You will have coverage for podiatrist foot exams as long as your physician accepts assignment. Medicare will help cover the cost of medically necessary treatments for foot injuries or diseases, including bunion deformities. This means that 80 percent of the total cost of bunion surgery is paid for by Medicare. If you decide to go ahead with bunion surgery, you must pay for the remaining 20 percent of the approved, total cost. The Part B deductible will apply. You also may be required to pay a copayment in certain situations.