A common question we get from our patients is “How much does bariatric surgery cost?” It’s a valid concern—medical treatment usually isn’t cheap, though insurance and other forms of financial assistance can make it more affordable.
The American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) states that the average bariatric surgery cost is roughly $17,000 to $26,000*. Of course, costs vary according to the type of surgery, geographical location, and other factors. Gastric bypass tends to fall at the higher end of the range while gastric sleeve tends to be at the lower end. Bariatric surgery in the USA is covered by most of the larger medical insurance plans. While obesity surgery cost is significant, patients who have such a procedure generally find their overall healthcare costs are reduced by about 30% within five years.
How to Pay for Bariatric Surgery
There are multiple weight loss surgery payment options available. Many health care insurance plans cover “medically necessary” bariatric surgery costs. To meet this criteria, a patient typically will have
- A body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, or a BMI of 35+ with at least one medical comorbidity (heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, etc.), and
- Will have previously attempted to lose weight with a physician-supervised exercise or weight loss program without lasting success.
If you have questions or concerns about your ability to be approved for weight loss surgery, contact your surgeon’s staff for assistance.
What if my insurance doesn’t cover weight loss surgery?
If your weight loss surgery is not covered by insurance, you’re not out of luck. Here are some options.
Switch Jobs and/or Plans
PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) insurance plans tend to cover bariatric surgery more often than HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) plans do, so it may be worth switching plans to get coverage.
If it’s an option, it may make sense to switch to a job that offers better benefits than your current employer. If you purchase your insurance through the Marketplace or choose from multiple plans offered by your employer, you may be able to switch to a different plan that covers bariatric surgery costs.
Consider weight loss surgery options and cost carefully by comparing any increase in premiums with the new plan to your estimated bariatric surgery out-of-pocket cost without insurance.
If it happens that your insurance won’t pay for your weight loss surgery, you may be able to secure financing, either through a personal loan or a secured medical loan. Loans will require repayment with interest, and you may be required to put up collateral as well, but it is an option if your credit is good enough.
Hospital Payment Plan
Some hospitals have a payment plan for those who don’t have insurance. Typically, you’ll make regular payments over the course of a few months or years to pay for your weight loss surgery.
Medicare and Medicaid
Medicare or Medicaid may also cover weight loss surgery costs. Each has their own requirements, though they’re largely along the same lines as those set forth by most insurance providers (BMI over 35 with a comorbidity, documented attempts at controlling weight, etc.). The main difference is Medicare has an age requirement (65+ or under 65 and disabled) while Medicaid is reserved for low-income individuals.
Out-of-Pocket Bariatric Surgery Cost
While the out-of-pocket cost for bariatric surgery without insurance is prohibitively high for most people, it may still be an option if you can afford it and don’t have insurance coverage. It also saves on interest while potentially keeping insurance premiums down.
Malladi Bariatrics and Advanced Surgery
If you have been unsuccessful at losing weight in spite of your best efforts and are interested in weight loss surgery, know that you have many options available when it comes to paying for the procedure including insurance and financing. Don’t wait any longer to get your weight—and your life—back under your control. Contact Dr. Malladi today to see if bariatric surgery is right for you.
*Please note that prices in this article are meant to give an idea of prices ranges for various procedures only and may not be applicable to your surgery. To learn what your financial responsibilities will be for bariatric surgery, please contact your insurance company and your surgeon’s office.