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Paying for Weight Loss Surgery

Losing weight takes work. But when you have a lot of weight to lose, and if exercise and diet aren't enough, you may start thinking about weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery.

You'll probably have questions about how much it costs, what insurance covers, and how to convince your insurance to cover the bill. Here’s what you should know.

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Weight Loss Surgery for Obesity

The first weight loss surgery Garrick Pedersen underwent nearly killed him. Doctors placed an elastic band around Pedersen's stomach just below the esophagus to restrict how much food he could eat. Pedersen, who weighed close to 300 pounds, began to lose weight almost immediately after the surgery. "I was overjoyed," says Pedersen, 52, a lawyer in the San Francisco Bay area. "I felt better. I looked better." What's more, very small portions of food left him feeling full. Then came trouble...

Read the Weight Loss Surgery for Obesity article > >

How Much Does It Cost?

Weight loss surgery is expensive. Typical costs can run from $20,000 to $25,000, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The price of your weight loss surgery will depend on several factors:

  • The type of surgery you're having. Types of weight loss surgery include gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding, vertical gastric banding (also called stomach stapling), sleeve gastrectomy, and biliopancreatic diversion. Each has a different fee.
  • Your surgeon's fee. This will vary based on where you live, your surgeon's expertise, and the procedure’s complexity.
  • The hospital you choose. Costs will vary and may include the operating and hospital rooms, among other fees.

Additional costs may include:

  • Anesthesiologist's fee
  • Surgical assistant's fee
  • Device fees
  • Consultant fees (if necessary)
  • Follow-up procedures (for the gastric band)

Will Health Insurance Pay?

If you have health insurance, read your policy carefully, and work closely with your insurer and your doctor to see what's covered.

Most insurance companies recognize that people who are overweight and obese are more likely to get serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence that bariatric surgery can improve or resolve up to 30 obesity-related conditions, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll likely have to pay the entire bill yourself. Some weight loss surgery centers can help you get a loan that you can repay over a number of years.

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