Cost of Weight Loss Surgery vs Cost of Obesity

Posted by Jason Radecke on Thu, Nov 01, 2012

Weight loss surgery can be a medical necessity for some patients, but it can also be expensive.Financing Weight Loss Surgery While the surgery can be a great investment in a patient’s health, could it also be a good investment for their wallets? Obesity has been linked to a variety of medical conditions, such as Type II diabetes and heart disease, which come along with heavy medical costs.

According to the American Society for Bariatric and Weight Loss Surgery, the federal government estimated that in 2008, $147 billion was spent on obesity-related health care. That figure is double what it was a decade ago, and is expected to rise to $344 billion each year by 2018. So by achieving a healthy BMI and improving comorbidities through bariatric surgery, could patients actually save money in the long run?

When compared to the lifetime medical costs associated with obesity related medical conditions, it’s been suggested that weight loss surgery will save patients money.

Health Benefits of Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery is the most effective, long lasting treatment for morbid obesity and can help patients lose excess weight rapidly. It’s also been linked to a number of health benefits. Most notably, studies have shown having bariatric surgery for diabetes can improve, and even cure the condition in some patients. By improving or eliminating such obesity related medical conditions, patients who have bariatric surgery will be saving money on the medical visits and medications they’d typically need.  

Bariatric surgery can also:

  • Improve physical functioning, such as walking and breathing
  • Reverse or improve obesity related health problems like diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure and sleep apnea
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Lead to a longer, and improved quality of life

Return on Investment

Though it may not always happen quickly, there are multiple studies that show bariatric surgery ends up paying for itself, and then some. A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that patients paying between $17,000 to $26,000 for bariatric surgery recouped their costs within 2 years for laparoscopic procedures, and 4 years for open procedures.

According to another study, published by Bloomberg, bariatric surgery patients spent $930 annually on drug costs during years 7 to 20 after surgery, compared with $1,123 for those who did not have surgery. A decrease in spending on diabetes and heart disease drugs made the most difference between surgery and non-surgery patients.

Patients who experience no complications will also typically have lower medical costs. While complications are sometimes unavoidable, the chance of them occurring can be brought down by choosing a highly experienced bariatric surgeon. The cost of weight loss surgery and its return on investment is often different for different patients.

Quality of Life

According to an article by Washington University in St. Louis, people in the U.S. value each “quality-adjusted life year” at $50,000. This means that people are willing to pay up to $50,000 on a medical procedure if it will give them more than one quality year of life. With most bariatric surgeries ranging between $12,500 and $30,000, bariatric surgery can lead to an improved quality of life in a cost effective way.

If you are suffering from obesity, there is a good chance that bariatric surgery will save you money on future medical expenses. Remember that surgery is not the best option for everyone, but you won’t know unless you talk with a skilled bariatric physician. It has been proven that bariatric surgery not only cuts down future medical expenses, but also improves quality of life. If you want to take a step toward a better you, make an appointment to talk to a bariatric surgeon to find out exactly what weight loss surgery options are best for your situation.

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