If you’ve been battling weight gain, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults in the U.S. have obesity. That extra weight can cause other health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Weight loss surgery has proven to be effective at improving these and other health conditions, and reducing dependency on medications for treatment of obesity-related health problems. Patients who undergo bariatric surgery typically lose between 30 and 70 percent of their excess weight, often within the first year.
When you are considering your weight loss options, including bariatric surgery, cost is an important factor to keep in mind. Will your insurance company cover the weight loss surgery cost? How much will bariatric surgery cost you out of pocket? These are all good questions to ask, but there is another factor anyone considering weight loss surgery should also consider.
What is it costing you to be overweight or obese?
While the sticker price of weight loss surgery may be overwhelming to some, the unexpected costs of being significantly overweight may cost you much more in the long run. Here’s a look at some of the costs associated with obesity:
Annual health care spending. Studies have shown that people who are significantly overweight or obese spend more on health care each year than people who are not overweight — up to $4,800 more per year. Costs associated with being overweight include treatment for obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, cancer and other health problems.
Lost wages. People who are obese take more sick days than normal weight individuals. That time away from work can be costly for the individual, but employers and employees also share the burden in productivity losses, as well as short-term disability and direct medical costs.
Lower pay. According to the Obesity Action Coalition, people who are overweight or obese earn less than their normal-weight peers, and are often passed up for promotions.
Increased spending on clothing. Many clothing manufacturers place an upcharge on plus-size or big and tall clothing. The cost increase is especially notable when it comes to women’s clothing.
These are just a few examples of the added financial burden experienced by people who are overweight. But perhaps the worst consequence of obesity is the risk of premature death. According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office, individuals who have a body mass index (BMI) over 30 have a 50 to 100 percent increased risk of premature death. Even being moderately obese could cut three years off your life.
All things considered, the decision to undergo weight loss surgery can save you thousands of dollars compared to the cost of obesity, but the benefits of weight loss surgery go far beyond the financial. Improved health, greater quality of life and reduced mortality are all worth the cost.
But let’s get down to the dollars and cents of the weight loss surgery cost.
What does bariatric surgery cost?
Weight loss surgery costs between $15,000 and $25,000, depending on the procedure you choose. The average cost of gastric bypass surgery is around $23,000, while the cost of gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy, such as the gastric mini sleeve surgery cost are lower — around $15,000.
Many major insurance providers offer coverage for bariatric surgery. If you have bariatric insurance coverage, your cost may be reduced to the out-of-pocket costs determined by your health care plan. For patients who do not have bariatric coverage, most weight loss surgeons offer a reduced cash price, which includes office visits, surgery and post-op care. Payment plans and financing are also an option, typically through a third-party, such as Care Credit.
If you are planning to use your health insurance to cover your weight loss surgery cost, there are a few important things to know.
- Your insurance provider must approve your surgery. There will be certain requirements you need to meet before you can be approved for surgery. Although these requirements vary by provider, these requirements may include (but are not limited to):
- A BMI of at least 40, or 35 with existing comorbidities
- A psychological evaluation
- A dietary evaluation
- Following a diet for three to six months
- Referral from primary care physician
- Weight history showing the patient has been overweight for an extended period of time
- A letter of medical necessity from the primary care provider
- Required nutritional evaluations, psychological screenings, etc may not be covered b y insurance. Although many insurance providers require these services before approving bariatric surgery, the cost for these services may not be covered, requiring the patient to pay out-of-pocket.
- Out-of-pocket costs must be paid before surgery. In most cases, the patient will be required to pay his or her out-of-pocket portion in full before surgery.
- No insurance approval does not mean no surgery. If you do not have insurance coverage, or your insurance company does not approve your procedure, it does not mean you are out of options. In addition to cash-pay options, many bariatric surgeons also provide non-surgical, or medical weight loss programs.
The weight loss doctors at First Baptist Medical Center have insurance experts with 20 years of experience helping patients receive insurance approval for bariatric surgery. We accept most private insurance plans and work on our patients’ behalf to obtain approval, minimizing out-of-pocket expenses. When paid in cash, gastric mini sleeve surgery cost and the costs of other procedures vary, but remain some of the most competitive self-pay prices in the area.
Are you ready to drop the weight, improve your obesity-related health conditions, and save on your annual health care costs? If diet and exercise hasn’t worked for you, or if you have been overweight for some time, there’s no better time than now to consider bariatric surgery. Contact First Baptist Medical Center today to schedule a consultation with a weight loss surgeon who can help you lose the weight and reclaim your life.