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UK considers cosmetic surgery insurance

London — A breast implant scandal has spurred a move to introduce an insurance plan to protect cosmetic surgery patients in the United Kingdom.

The U.K.’s Press Association reports that Sir Bruce Keogh, M.D., who is leading a government review into risks from faulty breast implants as medical director of the country’s National Health Service, said the coverage would be similar to that in place in the travel industry, under which companies pay a fee for membership in the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), which among other things provides a consumer fund in the event of a travel-related problem.

According to the Press Association, Dr. Keogh told BBC Radio, “One of the things that my review will be looking at will be something rather like the ABTA arrangement that travel agents have, which means that if an organization runs into trouble the consumer is covered.”

About 40,000 women in the U.K. received implants manufactured by the now-defunct French company Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP). Some implants later were found to have been made with non-medical-grade silicone.

Though there is no evidence that PIP implants cause harm, the British government has said that concerned patients who had NHS surgery to have PIP implants inserted can have the NHS remove the implants and replace them free of charge. In the event of a clinical need for patients whose private clinics won’t provide the service, the NHS will also pay to remove, but not replace, implants.

The government also plans to reintroduce a breast implant registry to record and track all implant procedures.

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