Losing weight isn't easy -- and for many severely overweight people, exercise and diet simply aren't effective enough to shed significant weight. When all else has failed, many people start thinking about weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery.
You likely have questions about financing weight loss surgery -- the costs involved, what is covered by insurance, and how to convince your insurance to cover weight loss surgery.
Biliopancreatic Diversion (with or without Duodenal Switch)
Staples partition the stomach below the esophagus to make a small pouch. This pouch connects to the lower small intestine, bypassing the upper segment (duodenum).
Weight loss surgery's popularity is growing as a treatment for severe obesity. When diet and exercise fail the more than 60 million Americans considered obese, surgery, for some, can literally be lifesaving. But it isn't for everyone. While generally safe, bariatric weight loss surgery (also called simply weight loss surgery) has risks. And losing weight after bariatric surgery is far from automatic: It takes commitment to lifelong changes in eating patterns and lifestyle.
The good news: Most insurance companies recognize that overweight and obese patients have an increased risk of serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea.
In fact, there is plenty of evidence that bariatric surgery can improve or resolve up to 30 obesity-related conditions, according to the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).
If you have health insurance, it’s important to read your policy carefully and work closely with your insurer and your doctor to ensure that most of the costs of weight loss surgery are covered.
If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll likely have to pay the entire bill yourself. Some weight loss surgery centers, however, can help you get financing, a loan that you can repay over a number of years.
The Costs of Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery is expensive: The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that the typical costs can run from $20,000 to $35,000.
The costs of weight loss surgery depend on several factors:
The type of surgery you're having
Your surgeon's fee
The hospital you choose
Weight loss surgery can be divided into two fundamental types: those that create smaller stomach size -- restricting calorie intake -- and those that cause malabsorption of food. There are a few basic types of bariatric surgery: 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 will vary based on where you live, your surgeon's expertise, and the complexity of the surgery.
Other costs may include:
Surgical assistant's fee
Operating room fees
Hospital room fees
Lab and other diagnostic fees
Consultant fees (if necessary)
Follow-up procedures (for the gastric band)
Getting Your Insurance to Pay for Weight Loss Surgery
Most insurance companies require that you provide proof that the procedure is a medical necessity. Your surgeon can help provide your medical history and documentation of your obesity-related health problems.