Congratulations! You and your physician have decided that gastric bypass surgery will help you regain your health and finally get your weight under control. You couldn’t be happier. However, you’re unsure if your insurance plan covers weight loss surgery and have no idea what this potentially life-saving procedure will cost.
Depending on where you live, the cost of gastric bypass surgery varies. However, the most important decision you can make for yourself right now is not to base your choice of surgeon on the price of surgery. Your health matters first and foremost, so whatever choice you make, be sure your long-term good is your first priority, second to your financial investment.
That said, gastric bypass is traditionally the most expensive bariatric surgery. Of gastric bypass types, duodenal switch surgery and any revisional procedures cost the most. While the difference between prices in various regions is broad, the average price is currently $22,000, and has remained so since 2013, according to a study run by Obesitycoverage.com. Country-wide, gastric bypass surgeries run from $15,000 USD to $35,000 USD.
The Cost of a Low Price
Can you put a price on your health? If you settle for a less-than-reputable surgeon, you may be doing just that. Lower-priced surgeries are often offered outside of the country, in places like Mexico and other South American countries. Medical Tourism is a growing phenomenon, as patients seek their least expensive surgery options. However, evaluating a surgeon solely based on price can be a dangerous option.
A gastric bypass procedure is a major surgery. While the chance of major complications is low, they do occasionally occur. Surgeries conducted out of the country are often performed with out-of-date equipment using unregulated practices in unsanitary conditions. Your chances of undergoing a safe and successful procedure is much more likely inside the country than outside, at a facility that offers quality follow-up care.
How Do I Find a Qualified Surgeon?
Rather than looking at price, which is determined more by region than by surgeon’s skill, consider your prospective physician’s experience and complication rate. According to current studies, the average complication rate in the United States ranges between 7% and 14%. You’ll want to consider surgeon’s years in practice as well as his complication rate and compare the two to come up with your best bet.
Will My Insurance Cover the Cost of Surgery?
If your policy includes weight loss surgery and you meet the criteria set forth in your policy, your surgery will be covered. However, many employers will specifically exclude coverage from your policy due to the expenses involved in covering this procedure. If your policy does exclude weight loss surgery, you and your physician can make a good case for including the surgery. Be sure to document any failed weight loss efforts over the past year, particularly those also documented by your doctor. Approaching your HR department with this information may create a favorable outcome. If your employer or insurance provider refuses to cover the surgery, bariatric advocacy groups like Lindstrom Obesity Advocacy can help you appeal decisions made by your carrier.
In addition to the price of surgery, you will need to make space in your budget for new clothing as the weight falls off, monthly vitamin supplements (approximately $50 per month), and nutritionist follow up visits, depending on how much your policy covers. You may also want to budget for a gym membership to help you get and stay in shape over the long run.
Gastric bypass surgery is an investment in a healthy future and never a one-note decision. However, cost is certainly a factor that affects your everyday life and one that should be considered alongside the quality of your surgeon and support team. Want to learn more about gastric bypass surgery and the power of a fully-integrated program? Attend one of our free, zero-obligation seminars today!