Affording Bariatric Surgery: Payment Strategies

bariatric financing image

Weight loss surgery is both complex and costly. Health insurance providers including Medicare and, in some states, Medicaid, are beginning to cover some or all of the costs of surgery for obesity if you meet the National Institutes of Health requirements. When insurance coverage is denied and an appeal doesn’t work, patients often stress about how they’ll afford the cost of weight loss surgery.

The medical expenses of a bariatric procedure often include:

  • surgery
  • nutrition consultations
  • psychologist appointments
  • medical tests and medications
  • anesthesia expenses

However, if patients look hard enough, bariatric surgery can be affordable. There are multiple payment options available to patients who just don’t have the necessary cash on hand. Many patients find that achieving a healthy lifestyle is worth more than the cost of surgery.

Most cases of chronic morbid obesity (especially with a body mass index above 40) are covered if your doctor informs the insurance company that the surgery is medically necessary and provides appropriate documentation, including records of your doctor-supervised attempts to lose weight such as drug therapy and group therapy. Coverage is also more likely if your doctor demonstrates that you suffer comorbidities such as diabetes or heart disease. Your doctor can help you put together a strong case that will improve your chances of weight loss surgery insurance coverage. Coverage will vary among insurance carriers. If the initial attempt to authorize coverage is denied, you can appeal the decision.

Many bariatric physicians offer payment plans to help manage the cost of weight loss surgery. Many practices are also familiar with medical financing companies and can provide information.

Loans are another option patients can turn to when they’ve been denied insurance coverage for bariatric surgery. When considering taking out a loan, it’s important for patients to talk with their doctors to map out how much their surgery and other expenses associated with surgery will be.

The hospital or bariatric surgical center where you choose to have your surgery performed may also offer payment plans. These plans allow patients to pay off chunks of the cost of their bariatric procedure, rather than having to pay for the full amount upfront. The cost of surgery for these self pay patients is often less than the cost of surgery for those patients who have been approved for insurance coverage for bariatric surgery.

Your medical expenses may be tax deductible. If you itemize your deductions on a Form 1040, Schedule A, you may be able to deduct medical expenses you paid that year for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents. You can visit the Internal Revenue Service website to find more details on which medical expenses you can deduct.

Once you’ve found a payment option that works for you, you’ll be on your way to experiencing a renewed sense of health, confidence, and an improved quality and length of life. Paying for the surgery by yourself can be tough, but the trade off can be great. With the right payment options, bariatric surgery can be affordable.

Dr. Tsuda or Dr. Ryan can answer your questions about treatment costs and fitting a payment plan into your budget.

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