Average Cost of Gastric Bypass Surgery & How to Make It Affordable

The high average cost of gastric bypass surgery can be a significant obstacle for patients to overcome. Fortunately, there are several options that help make it more affordable…

Average Cost of Gastric Bypass Surgery

The average cost of gastric bypass surgery is around $21,000, but it can range from $15,000 to over $35,000. How much you pay depends on a number of factors, some of which you can control:

"How much you pay depends on a number of factors, some of which you can control."

  • Open or laparoscopic surgery – Open surgery tends to cost around $2,500 more than laparoscopic surgery due to its longer hospital stays.1
  • Bariatric surgeon – there is no specific formula for determining which surgeons charge more. For example, some high-cost surgeons charge more because they are more experienced while others because they are the “only show in town”.
  • Region of the country or world – Where you have the surgery is a big predictor of costs. Relatively low cost gastric bypass surgery can be found outside the country (more on this below), while the high end of the spectrum tends to be concentrated in areas with a higher overall cost of living.
  • Whether or not you have insurance – not only will gastric bypass surgery be less expensive for you if you have insurance, it may be less expensive overall. If your surgeon is covered by your insurance, it is likely that a discount has been negotiated to allow that surgeon to participate in your insurance company’s network (more on gastric bypass insurance below).

The total cost of gastric bypass surgery is made up of several fees, including:

  • Hospital
  • Surgeon
  • Surgical assistant
  • Anesthesia
  • Lab and X-ray
  • Operating room
  • Consultant (if necessary)

The $15,000 to $35,000+ price range does not necessarily include pre-surgery or post-surgery fees such as…

YOUR Weight Loss Journey

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  • Dietitian
  • Psychologist
  • Bariatric vitamins
  • Follow-up doctor visits

Fifteen to thirty-five thousand dollars may seem like a lot, but it pales in comparison to the long-term costs of obesity health problems for people who don’t get the surgery. Prescription drugs alone could save you $3,000 or more per year.2

A study published by the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) found that bariatric patients pay as much as $900 less per month as soon as 13 months after surgery than similar people who didn’t have surgery.3

"The cost of gastric bypass surgery pales in comparison to the long-term costs of obesity health problems."

The analysis also showed that for those receiving laparoscopic bariatric surgery, costs of surgery broke even within 2 years. Those receiving open surgery broke even within 4 years.

Nevertheless, many bariatric surgery patients do not have tens of thousands of dollars saved to pay for treatment. Fortunately, there are several ways to make it more affordable…

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Gastric Bypass Surgery Insurance

If you don’t already have insurance, chances are you will not be able to get coverage for bariatric surgery.

The one exception could be insurance through your employer.  If you are not currently covered under your employer's plan but are eligible to participate, ask your Human Resources (HR) representative whether bariatric surgery is covered.  You should be able to enroll for coverage during your company's next open enrollment period, which HR can also confirm.

If you do have insurance, you’ve got some potentially tricky work ahead of you to…

  1. Figure out if surgery is covered
  2. If it isn’t covered, explore the possibility of getting bariatric surgery added to your plan
  3. If it is covered, navigate the lengthy process for getting it approved

Our Bariatric Surgery Insurance page will give you all the ammunition you need to get the ball rolling.

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Gastric Bypass Financing

If you are paying the entire cost of gastric bypass surgery on your own, you have several good options to make it more affordable and potentially reduce your out-of-pocket costs:

Our Gastric Bypass Financing page (includes financing information for other procedures as well) will guide you through all of the options to determine which ones best fit your situation.

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Does Low Cost Gastric Bypass Surgery Exist?

Although slim, there’s a chance that you could qualify for less expensive or even free weight loss surgery through charity care or, at some point, government assistance.

If none of the available bariatric surgery financing options work and you are unable to get financial aid, you have one more increasingly viable option: medical travel. See our Weight Loss Surgery Mexico and Abroad page to learn more.

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References

  1. Edward H. Livingston. Hospital costs associated with bariatric procedures in the United States. American journal of surgery 1 November 2005 (volume 190 issue 5 Pages 816-820 DOI: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2005.07.026)
  2. Snow, L; Weinstein, L; Hannon, Jeffrey; Lane, Daniel; Ringold, Forrest; Hansen, Peggy; Pointer, Michael. The Effect of Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass on Prescription Drug Costs. Obesity Surgery, Volume 14, Number 8, September 2004 , pp. 1031-1035(5)
  3. Pierre-Yves Cremieux, PhD, et al. A Study on the Economic Impact of Bariatric Surgery. Am J Manag Care. 2008;14(9):589-596
Disclaimer: The information contained in this web site is provided for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as nor should be relied upon as medical advice. Rather, it is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing physician(s). Before you use any of the information provided in the site, you should seek the advice of a qualified medical, dietary, fitness or other appropriate professional. Read More