Health Costs and Insurance Claims Less for Morbidly Obese after Bariatric Surgery

Monday, September 8th, 2008
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

Insurers recover their costs for bariatric surgery in two to four years depending on the type of surgery that is performed, according to a new study published in The American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC), a peer-reviewed journal on health outcomes research. The study found healthcare costs for patients who were morbidly obese and had bariatric surgery dropped while costs for morbidly obese patients who did not have surgery continued to rise. The analysis covered six months of pre-surgical evaluation and care, the surgery itself, and up to five years of post-surgical care, including any costs incurred for complications from surgery. Costs and claims were monitored for morbidly obese patients who did not have bariatric surgery over the same period. The study compared actual insurance claims filed by 3,651 bariatric surgery patients to actual claims filed by an equal number of morbidly obese patients who did not have surgery.

  • Insurers fully recovered the costs of laparoscopic bariatric surgery in about two years and in about four years for traditional, open bariatric surgery.
  • Reductions in costs associated with prescription drugs, physician visits and hospital services offset the $17,000 average cost of laparoscopic surgery and the $26,000 average cost of traditional, open bariatric surgery.
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