Cost Bariatric Surgery: Details & How to Minimize Your Out of Pocket Costs
The cost of bariatric surgery – meaning the money coming out of the patient’s pocket – can range from free to over $30,000. This page will break down the bariatric surgery cost components and guide you towards further research to make it affordable...
- Price range in the United States by procedure (Bariatric Surgery Canada is on a separate page)
- Cost Components – What does the money go towards?
- Bariatric surgery insurance, financing & taxes
- Price range outside of the United States – Could this be an option for you?
- Cost of gastric bypass surgery (on a separate page)
- Cost of lap band surgery (on a separate page)
Assuming there are no bariatric surgery complications, the total cost of weight loss surgery in the United States can range anywhere from $3,000 to $35,000 or more depending on a variety of factors…
- Bariatric surgery procedures chosen
- Whether surgery is performed open or laparoscopically
- Whether surgery is covered by insurance and, if so, the negotiated discount received by the insurance company. Your out-of-pocket costs will completely depend on your individual policy (we’ll get into more details about this below).
- Where the procedure is performed and by whom (some
surgeons’ fees drive
the total cost well above $35,000). For example, one
study found that California was the most expensive with an
average charge per
procedure of $52,224, whereas Maryland was the least expensive with an
average charge per procedure of $14,577.1
You will likely pay more for bariatric doctors with more experience such as those performing surgery in designated centers of excellence. While we recommend you play it safe and always choose a surgeon at a designated center of excellence if the option is available, it is interesting to note that there are conflicting opinions about whether these centers have better surgery outcomes.2
Following is the average range of weight loss surgery cost by procedure and whether it is covered by insurance:
Bariatric surgery is different from most other types of surgeries (excluding cosmetic surgery) for a two reasons:
Health Benefits & Getting Weight Loss Surgery Added to Your Insurance Policy
As numerous pages throughout our site demonstrate, morbid obesity is an extremely life threatening and debilitating disease, and bariatric surgery can improve or cure many of the health risks associated with it.
It may be the only cure for some conditions. While some insurance companies and employers have realized the benefits of bariatric surgery and have added it to their policies, others have yet to educate themselves about the latest research.
If you receive insurance through a large employer (with 50 or more employees) and bariatric surgery is not included in your plan, click here to learn how you may be able to get it added.
- Weight loss surgery is sometimes considered “elective” by insurance companies and employers, meaning that that they view the treatment as purely cosmetic.
- The surgery itself may be billed in one lump sum rather than broken down into several components.
The total cost of bariatric surgery is also similar to other surgeries regarding the cost components…
- Hospital fees
- Surgeon fees
- Surgical assistant's fee
- Anesthesia fees
- Lab and X-ray fees
- Operating room fees
- Device fees
- Consultant fees (if necessary)
- Lap band adjustments (if applicable)
In addition, the $3,000 to $35,000+ bariatric surgery cost estimate mentioned above does not necessarily include pre-surgery or post-surgery fees such as…
- Bariatric vitamins
- Follow-up doctor visits
Reducing the health risks associated with obesity is well worth the cost of surgery, but if you’re like most people you’ll need some assistance paying the bills associated with bariatric surgery…
YOUR Weight Loss Journey
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If you have private insurance through your employer or an individual plan, weight loss surgery may or may not be covered. Insurance companies are increasingly including bariatric surgery in their plans, but many still consider it elective while insurance companies who do cover it view some procedures as experimental.
See our Bariatric Surgery Insurance ( VBG, DS, gastric bypass and lap band insurance ) page to figure out whether it is included in your plan along with the steps necessary to get the surgery approved.
If you’re covered by Medicare, as of 2006 coverage was expanded nationally to include bariatric surgery.3 Certain criteria still need to be met, but as long as you do your research and choose the right doctor, you’ll be covered. See our Medicare Bariatric Surgery page for all of the details.
If you do not have insurance or if weight loss surgery is not covered under your insurance policy, you still have several viable options for reducing your costs and making surgery more affordable.
Click here to review our Bariatric Surgery Financing page for your 7 financing options along with strategies to reduce your out-of-pocket costs and tax considerations.
Contrary to many U.S. doctors’ opinions, as long as the right steps are taken receiving bariatric surgery outside of the U.S. can be extremely safe and could save you up to $20,000 or more.
Here are a few things that may surprise you about medical care outside the United States:
- The most respected organization for accrediting hospitals in the U.S. also accredits hospitals internationally using the same rigorous standards
- Hospitals abroad often partner directly with U.S. hospitals to coordinate care, set clinical guideline standards and share medical records
- Many doctors abroad were educated and practiced medicine in the United States before relocating
- Hospital Information Systems (the computers that track your medical history and treatment) are often much more advanced abroad than they are in the United States which leads to fewer errors (i.e. giving you the wrong prescription) and more accurate coordination of care with your local doctors
- There are companies that will coordinate your travel and medical care for little to no extra costs
Since it's so close, Mexico is by far the easiest place to have surgery outside of the U.S. To learn more about how much you may be able to save by having treatment abroad, click here to contact a reputable surgeon in Mexico.
After getting an initial understanding of the costs, take the time to educate yourself about medical travel on our Medical Travel for Bariatric Surgery page (includes weight loss surgery Mexico).
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References for Cost Bariatric Surgery
- HealthGrades. 2009/2010 Bariatric Surgery Excellence Award:
Bariatric Surgery Patients Have 67 Percent Lower Chance of
Complications at Top-Performing Hospitals. July 2009. Available at:
2009-10-Bariatric-Surgery-Excellence-Announcement.aspx. Accessed: Nov 18, 2009.
- Edward H. Livingston. Bariatric Surgery Outcomes at Designated Centers of Excellence vs Nondesignated Programs. Arch Surg. 2009;144(4):319-325.
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. MEDICARE EXPANDS NATIONAL COVERAGE FOR BARIATRIC SURGERY PROCEDURES. Feb 2006. Available at: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/apps/media/press/release.asp?Counter=1786