Higher Income Earners Achieve Better Bariatric Surgery Results

A new study finds that patients who rely on Medicare to pay for their weight loss surgery lose less weight afterward than patients with private health insurance.

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Got private health insurance? Then you’re likely to benefit more from weight loss surgery than people who don’t. That’s the finding of a new study out of Stanford University School of Medicine in California.

The study’s leader, Dr. John Morton of the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, collected data on 750 gastric bypass patients. He found that patients who relied on the government’s Medicare program to pay for their weight loss surgery lost less weight afterwards than patients with private health insurance.

In fact, while the Medicare group lost an impressive 57 percent of their excess weight, the private insurance group lost about 82 percent, Morton says.

Dr. Morton believes Medicare patients lose less after bariatric surgery because they start out in worse shape. Medicare and Medicaid patients tend to be poor, disabled, and elderly, and often start the weight loss surgery process with an average body mass image of 50 or more.

They also frequently suffer from depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, unhealthy levels of cholesterol, and sleep apnea.

Interestingly, although the private insurance patients lost more weight, the Medicare group had the greatest improvement in levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol that causes heart disease. They also had bigger improvements in fasting insulin, a measure of diabetes severity.

2 Responses

  1. Donella Herring

    It’s been nine weeks since my Gastric Bypass. I have lost 80 lbs!!! I am on disability from spinal surgeries and have Medicare. I think you might be wrong on the weight loss details of Medicare patients.


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