Can You Afford Gastric Bypass?

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dietYou have tried every diet in the book - South Beach, Atkins, Raw Foods, Gluten Free, Fat Flush - and they have all had similarly disappointing results. Exercise routines have proven to be frustrating and painful. You feel as though you are trapped, a prisoner in your own body. Your doctor constantly warns you that you are headed down a dark road that could lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even death. You know that a change has to happen. That's why you have been considering gastric bypass surgery; it seems like the solution you have been searching for. But doubt creeps into your mind - can you really afford the surgery?

How Much Will Gastric Bypass Actually Cost?

According to a report by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK), gastric bypass surgery will set you back around $20,000 to $25,000. The exact amount however will depend on which type of gastric bypass surgery you receive. Laproscopic Roux-en-Y surgery is a tad more expensive - up to $35,000. LAP-BAND on the other hand, which is a less invasive procedure, generally costs from $18,000 to $25,000.

There are of course other costs associated with gastric bypass surgery apart from the procedure itself. These include:

  • Psychological/behavioral counseling
  • Diet and nutrition counseling
  • Pre and post surgery tests
  • Medications

Many people also make the mistake of not planning for worst case scenarios, especially post-surgery complications that may require additional surgery, tests, or medications. Common complications following gastric bypass surgery include infection and leakage.

Of course, the true out of pocket cost for all of these elements will depend heavily on what your health insurance provider will cover.

How Will I Know If I'm Covered?

Some insurance plans will offer coverage for gastric bypass surgery when it has been deemed a "medical necessity" by a physician and surgeon while some plans don't cover the procedure at all. You should be absolutely clear on what your plan will cover before committing to gastric bypass surgery. That means you will likely need to speak with your insurance provider directly to eliminate any ambiguity. Some plans exclude any sort of obesity related treatment including gastric bypass.

Even if your insurance plan covers weight loss surgery, the process for getting approval can be long and arduous. Insurance companies usually require completion of a number of forms by your physicians and surgeons stating in writing that the surgery is a real medical necessity and will significantly improve your overall health.

Medicare patients may be able to obtain partial coverage for gastric bypass surgery but only if they suffer from obesity related diseases, like cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

My Insurance Won't Pay For It!

If you receive the grim news that your insurance plan does not cover weight loss treatments or your request for coverage is denied, there are still financing options available to you. You can speak with the hospital finance department to find if they will be able to work out a suitable payment plan for you. Alternatively, you could seek private loans to cover the expenses. Just remember that private loans incur interest and possibly other fees.

Gastric bypass surgery can be a saving grace for obese individuals, although the price can usually be steep. However, the procedure is an investment in you and your body. It can yield positive returns in the form of improved health and well-being. To protect your investment and continue to reap the benefits post- surgery, you should be physically active, attend regular psychological and nutritional counseling and compliment your diet with gastric bypass supplements.

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