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The Cost of Bariatric Surgery

The average cost of bariatric surgery without insurance ranges from $7,400 to $33,000. The price depends on the type of operation a patient chooses. For example, the average cost of a gastric bypass without insurance is around $19,000, whereas a sleeve gastrectomy costs $16,000. A few common types of bariatric surgeries are-

  • Gastric bypass
  • Gastric banding
  • Sleeve gastrectomy
  • Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch
  • Single anastomosis duodenal-ileal bypass with sleeve gastrectomy

These factors below might add up to the Bariatric Surgery cost:

  • Coexisting health conditions
  • Complexity of surgery
  • Fees for anesthesia
  • Surgeon fees
  • Type of equipment used
  • Complications during surgery
  • Geographic location
  • Length of hospital stay

There are also some after-surgery costs, including nutrition counseling and follow-up visits. You also need to consider medications plus the cost of your needing to leave work (i.e., a decrease in productivity). But when you take into account the money you’ve spent for this surgery compared to the cost of dealing with the complications of obesity, you will realize that you’ll get your money’s worth usually after 1.5 years post-surgery.

To sum it up, when you’ve attempted to lose weight several times, having a weight-loss surgery becomes worth it since its benefits far outweigh the chance of you developing complications.

How To Pay For Weight Loss Surgery

Typically, health insurance plans cover the cost of bariatric surgery. Even if bariatric surgery is a covered benefit, patients need approval from the insurance providers. They have to fulfill specific requirements to get their cost covered under their health care plan.

These requirements might be checking the patient’s overall health conditions with a screening test and others like:

  • Age 18 or older
  • Body mass index (BMI) over 40 or BMI over 35 with Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or other risk factors
  • Proven weight-loss efforts in the past
  • Smoking cessation before surgery
  • No substance abuse
  • Psychological testing
  • Insurance-mandated weight-loss program
  • Morbid obesity diagnosis for a period before surgery

Insurance might only cover some services a patient needs along with their bariatric surgery. A patient may need psychological screenings, but it may or may not be covered by their insurance. Patients must discuss with their provider and find the services they don’t cover. Since they need to pay for such services out of pocket, they should estimate the costs beforehand.

Patients normally pay for their care out of pocket before surgery. Depending on their insurance benefit, they must pay full advance payments before surgery.

What Happens If Insurance Can’t Cover Surgery Cost?

Suppose a patient didn’t get approval for bariatric surgery coverage. They might use their health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) to pay for bariatric surgery. A letter of medical necessity (LOMN) written by their physician is a must that describes their condition and explains the need for weight loss surgery.

If someone wants to pay in full for the surgery, they should determine whether their doctor offers a payment plan. There are also medical loans and health care financings such as Prosper or CareCredit.

Also, bariatric surgery, regardless of whether it’s a lap band, gastric bypass, or gastric sleeve, can qualify as a medical expense that you may be able to claim on your taxes. Aside from the surgery itself, you can also turn the supplements and medications that you buy throughout the year to avail of some tax deductions.

Stay energized even if you cannot find a suitable insurance provider to cover your costs. From our experience, most of our patients who had bariatric surgery and paid out of pocket have more significant weight loss and maintain their weight. This might be caused by the fact that they made a significant personal investment in themselves which consists of not only their time and energy but also their own money. Consult our medical providers to find a non-surgical way to reduce weight.

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