Financing Weight Loss Surgery

Financing weight loss surgery is often the only solution for morbidly obese patients whose insurance carrier will not cover the surgery and who do not qualify for Medicare. Fortunately, many options exist for patients who need to self-pay for weight loss surgery.

Financing Weight Loss SurgeryThe cost of weight loss surgery, like that of any surgical procedure, is substantial. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the typical cost of having weigh loss surgery runs in the $20,000 to $35,000 range – the price of a low-end luxury car. Just as few people pay cash for luxury cars, patients without insurance seldom have $35K just lying around – which brings financing into the picture. And financing weight loss surgery can be a problem on the level with the medical condition itself.

Financial Resources

Financing is another word for borrowing. Patients without health insurance, or who have policies that do not cover weight loss surgery, have no choice but to borrow the entire cost of the procedure up front. There are several sources for financing weight loss surgery:

  • Bank loans: a patient with sufficient collateral may be able to obtain a loan from his or her bank or credit union
  • Personal loans: patients may be able to borrow funds from friends, relatives, trust funds, etc. for medical purposes
  • Home equity loans: patients with valuable real property can borrow against the value of the equity in that property
  • Reverse mortgages: funds can be obtained by persons aged 62 and over by allowing the lienholder on their property to “buy back” their equity in a property less interest and fees
  • Retail borrowing: “storefront” finance companies (e.g., Beneficial) offer loans at retail interest rates, which are often high
  • Credit cards: Patients with high-limit credit cards may simply charge the cost of the operation, but interest on credit card debt can be astronomical
  • Installment purchase: Many surgical practices offer financing plans through independent health care finance companies (e.g., CareCredit), through which  the total cost of the procedure is “spread out” over several months or years; patients make periodic payments until the debt is repaid

Another approach is to bring the cost of the procedure down to a point that the patient can afford to pay with his or her available resources. The final price of a given surgical procedure is largely determined by the type of surgery to be performed, the hospital or clinic selected for the procedure, and the fee for service itself. These variables may be adjusted until the price of the patient’s weight loss surgery is reduced to an acceptable level.

Reducing Costs

One good method of reducing cost is to select a procedure that does not require admission to a hospital. Inpatient hospital care is expensive; in addition to the cost of the surgeon, the patient will also be expected to pay separately for the services of the anesthesiologist, any surgical assistants, an operating room fee, daily hospital room charges, lab and diagnostic fees, medical device fees (e.g. respirators), consultant and therapist fees (if necessary), and possibly others.

Thankfully, many surgeons today are trained in techniques that can be performed on an outpatient basis (e.g., Lap-Band surgery), thereby drastically cutting the cost of the surgery. Physicians can help their patients overcome sticker shock by preparing an accurate estimate of the cost of the recommended procedure as far in advance of the surgical date as possible to give the patient time to arrange the necessary financing. Of course, anyone considering weight loss surgery should discuss with their doctor which procedure is most appropriate based on their body mass index, co-morbidities and other factors.

The cost of weight loss surgery can be high – but it can be a bargain compared to the medical expenses and emotional suffering that go along with being obese.

One Response

  1. Sonia

    I need to find accompany that finances weight loss treatment not bariatric besides care credit please help me


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