The total cost of gastric sleeve surgery can be as low as $0, or as high as $20,000+ depending on several factors, including:
- Whether or not your medical insurance covers it
- Your chosen hospital and surgeon
- Your financing (loan) arrangements, if any
- Whether or not you qualify for tax write-offs
Read and click the sections below for details.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Click on any of the topics below to jump directly to that section
- Your out-of-pocket cost can be from $0 to several thousand, depending on your medical insurance plan
How much of the total gastric sleeve cost will come out of your pocket?
The biggest factor is insurance:
- If gastric sleeve is covered by your plan, your insurance company will pay the majority of the costs
- If it’s NOT covered, you can probably still get your insurance company to pay for at least some of the costs
Does Your Insurance Cover Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
Whether your plan covers it or not depends on where you get your insurance:
- Individual/Family Plans & Small Group Plans (under 50 employees). The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requires bariatric surgery coverage in many states.
- Large Group Plans (50+ employees) – Your company decides whether weight loss surgery is covered. Talk with your HR department or contact your insurance company to find out if it’s covered.
- Medicare & Medicaid – Medicare and Medicaid both cover gastric sleeve surgery, but not all surgeons accept them.
Use our Check My Insurance Tool to find out if gastric sleeve is covered by your insurance plan:Click Here to Check Your Insurance
If Your Policy Covers Gastric Sleeve, What Is Your Cost?
If your policy covers gastric sleeve surgery, your final out-of-pocket cost after insurance can range from $0 to several thousand dollars, depending on:
- Discounts negotiated by your insurance company with your chosen medical professionals, hospital, and pharmaceutical companies
- Calendar Year Deductible included under your plan (how much you must pay before your insurance company will start sharing the cost)
- Remaining Calendar Year Deductible Amount (total deductible minus how much you’ve paid so far year-to-date)
- Hospital Copay (what you must pay for each visit or each day spent in the hospital)
- Hospital Coinsurance (% of the bill you must pay after your deductibles and copays have been paid)
- Out-of-Pocket Maximum (maximum amount of coinsurance dollars you must pay before your insurance company begins paying for all of the costs)
Your surgeon will contact your insurance company on your behalf (often for free) and run all of the numbers for you.
If Your Policy Does NOT Cover Gastric Sleeve: Seek Partial Coverage
You may be able to get part of the costs paid for by insurance even if gastric sleeve surgery isn’t covered. It’s all about how your doctor and hospital submit your claims to your insurance company.
For example, there are many non-bariatric surgery reasons for your doctor to recommend:
- Cardiology exam
- Lab work
- Medically supervised diet program
- Psychological exam
- Sleep study
These are ordered for many reasons other than bariatric surgery and may be covered as a result. If your doctor submits one of these claims using a weight loss surgery CPT code (Current Procedural Terminology Code), your insurance is unlikely to cover it. But if your doctor uses a general CPT code, it probably will be covered.
While this may sound “sneaky”, it is an ethical practice. After all, these tests will be beneficial regardless of whether you move forward with surgery.
To learn more about insurance, see our Gastric Sleeve Insurance page.
- The total cost of the gastric sleeve without medical insurance is: $19,190, on average
- If you take out a medical loan for your surgery, the average loan payment is $445/month
- Discounts & tax savings are usually available
The total cost of gastric sleeve surgery without insurance averages just over $19,000, although you may be able to find local gastric sleeve surgery prices as low as $10,000 depending on your region.
Click here to see the cost by location map: This map shows the average gastric sleeve cost by country and state/province/region based on our annual surgeon cost survey.
If you choose to finance the procedure, monthly loan amounts for patients with good credit are available for less than $500 per month.
If you don’t have insurance and ask a surgeon for a gastric sleeve quote, you will get one of 3 responses:
- No Self-Pay Option – Some practices only work with patients who have insurance.
- Partial Quote – Some practices only quote the the surgeon’s and surgeon assistant’s fees. They don’t know the cost of services that are not under their direct control, like hospital fees. Most of these surgeons can provide phone numbers for you to conduct that cost research on your own.
- All-Inclusive Packages – Many practices quote an an up-front, all-inclusive cost. If any costs are not included in the package, they should outline those as well. These programs often include between 3 and 13 months of follow up visits in their packaged price.
To learn more about financing, see our Financing Bariatric Surgery page.
Discounts: 6 Gastric Sleeve Cost Discounts to Ask Your Surgeon About
Talk with your surgeon about whether any of these discounts are available to help offset the cost of gastric sleeve without insurance:
- Self-Pay Discounts. Most surgeons offer self-pay discounts or payment plans. Just ask!
- Other Discounts. Some offer discounts if you pay the total amount in advance.
- Same Surgeon, Different Hospitals. Some surgeons operate at more than one hospital. Hospital costs make up the biggest part of the bill, so find out if your surgeon has a choice.
- Pre-Op Costs. Some surgeons include pre-op costs in their quoted fees. Pre-op costs include things like testing and office visits.
- Complications. Should they arise, may increase total costs. Ask your surgeon who will pay if a complication arises during surgery. Some surgeons will include the cost of any complications in their quote while others will charge extra.
- Health Insurance That Does Not Include Bariatric Surgery. You may still get insurance to pay for some costs that could be applied to covered treatments. For example, lab work is needed for many reasons outside of bariatric surgery. Your surgeon can help you find the loopholes in your plan.
Finally, shop around for different surgeons. If you find one you really like but they are more expensive, share the cost quotes you received from less expensive practices and ask if they would be willing to reduce their fees to match (or get closer to) the other practices.
- United States: $19,000 USD Average
- Canada: $19,625 CAD Average
- Australia: $4,200 AUD Average
- United Kingdom: £11,100
- International Travel (Medical Travel): $5,125 to $10,800
If you don’t have insurance that covers it, the cost of gastric sleeve surgery depends on where you have the surgery. The interactive map above shows average gastric sleeve cost by country and state/province/region based on our annual surgeon cost survey.
However, costs in the same region can vary widely by surgeon and hospital. For example, we identified one surgical practice in the Northeast that had “operating privileges” at two local hospitals. For patients who choose the more expensive hospital, total charges were over $10,000 more for the same procedure performed performed by the same surgeon!
For better or worse, cost often has nothing to do with the quality of the surgeon or hospital. Instead, cost is driven by:
- Cost of living in the area
- Local competition
- Local Medicare and Medicaid populations
- For-profit or non-profit status of the hospital used
- The cost/profit structure of your chosen surgeon and hospital
For a specific price in your location, click here to contact a surgeon and ask for a free quote.
- Starting after year 2 post-op, average patient’s total health care costs will be cut by about $11,000 per year, so in the long run having weight loss surgery will save you money
At a total average cost of about $19,000, gastric sleeve surgery is expensive. But it’s not nearly as expensive as the medical costs of health problems related to or directly caused by obesity, such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Joint/bone issues
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea
- Venous stasis disease
- …and many others
Starting 13 months after surgery, patients without insurance save about $900 per month (1). That’s almost $11,000 saved per year. Fewer prescription drugs alone save patients $3,000 or more per year.
In other words, about 1 year and 9 months after surgery you will “break even” and start saving $11,000 per year.
- If your medical insurance covers gastric sleeve surgery, the sleeve is tied for the lowest-cost procedure
- If your medical insurance excludes the gastric sleeve, it’s 5th lowest cost out of 7
Gastric sleeve is tied for the lowest-cost procedure if your insurance covers weight loss surgery. If your insurance does not cover it, gastric sleeve has the 5th lowest average total cost.
See the chart below for how gastric sleeve costs compare to other weight procedures, both with and without insurance.Click Here to Compare Gastric Sleeve Costs with Other Procedures
- You will have four types of costs associated with your surgery
The following section details when (and why) expenses incur in the gastric sleeve surgery process:
Pre-Op (Costs Before Surgery)
- Physician-supervised weight loss program (required)
- Dietitian/nutritionist consultations
- Psychologist (mental health clearance)
- Cardiologist (heart health clearance)
- Lab/blood work, echocardiogram (also known as an “ECG” or “EKG”) and/or X-Ray fees
- Surgeon consultation fees
- Sleep study
Standard Costs During Surgery
- Hospital fees
- Surgeon fees
- Surgical assistant fees
- Anesthesia fees
- Operating room fees
Non-Standard Costs During Surgery
- Pathologist fees (for reviewing biopsies, if necessary)
- Radiologist fees (for reviewing x-rays, if necessary)
Post-Op (Costs After Surgery)
- Addressing any complications
- Follow-up doctor visits
- Bariatric vitamins
- Extra food costs (healthier food tends to cost more)
- Personal trainer and/or gym membership
- New clothes (wait to go crazy with this until you reach your plateau weight)
- Plastic surgery to remove sagging skin (more on this in the Downsides section below)
- 7 ways to make your gastric sleeve surgery more affordable
There are 7 financing options to help make gastric sleeve surgery more affordable:
Payment Plan Through a Qualified Surgeon
Some surgeons offer a payment plan to make treatment affordable. Some allow you to pay them interest-free over time, while others will agree to charge you a very low interest rate. Some even offer reduced-cost or free weight loss surgery for those who can’t afford it.
If your surgeon is willing to work with you, your arrangement will almost always be set up on a one-off basis. Always negotiate a fully packaged up-front price for all services so there are no surprises down the road.
Brokers, Direct Lenders, and Credit Cards (“Unsecured Medical Loans”)
Unlike secured loans, unsecured loans allow you to borrow money without putting up any collateral (such as your house). The trade off comes in the form of an interest rate that you pay back to the bank over the term of your loan.
Friends & Family
Financing gastric sleeve surgery by borrowing money from friends and family will save you the interest that banks will charge, which can amount to thousands of dollars. You may be surprised how willing your loved ones are to help, especially after you educate them about gastric sleeve surgery’s impact to your obesity health issues.
Secured Medical Loans
A secured medical loan is a loan from a bank or credit union that you back with some sort of collateral. If you don’t pay the loan back, the financial institution has a right to take ownership of whatever collateral you used.
The most commonly accepted form of collateral is your home (also called a mortgage loan).
Retirement Plan Loans
Your 401(k), 403(b), or other retirement plan may allow you to take out a loan to pay for your gastric sleeve surgery.
Contact your HR department or your retirement plan provider to find out whether you plan allows hardship withdrawals. Hardship withdrawal provisions allows you to to take out money from your retirement plan for unreimbursed medical expenses for you, your spouse or your dependents.
Permanent Life Insurance Loans
A form of life insurance called “permanent” life insurance includes an accumulation of a “cash value” that can be borrowed against.
If you already have permanent life insurance, this may be an option for financing gastric sleeve surgery. If you don’t, this will not be an option as it usually takes years to accumulate enough cash value to pay for the surgery.
Having gastric sleeve surgery in another country could save you a lot of money if you don’t have insurance that covers the procedure.
Your decision about whether it’s right for you comes down to a few key factors:
- Safety – before seriously considering it, understand the risks of traveling before and after surgery.
- Money – weigh the savings and risks specific to your situation.
- Travel Companion – you absolutely need someone you trust to go with you for support and to help you through the process. If no one you trust is able to go with you, it’s best to stick with bariatric doctors in your area.
For more information about each of the options above, see our Financing Bariatric Surgery page.
- Your bariatric surgery may be tax deductible, depending on your country
- Tax-favored savings accounts help offset your costs
Gastric sleeve surgery is tax deductible, which can have a big impact on the total cost of surgery.
However, you can only deduct medical expenses if your total out-of-pocket medical costs (for gastric sleeve and any other medical services or treatments you receive throughout the year) are more than 10% of your adjusted gross income.
To receive the deductions, you’ll need to complete Schedule A of the IRS Form 1040. You’ll also need to save your medical bills and payment statements as proof.
Money you’ve put into one of the following special savings accounts (or even your IRA) may also be a way to pay for part of surgery tax-free:
- Health Savings Account (HSA) – You can open an HSA alongside a “qualified high deductible” health plan. Tax-free HSA money can be used pay for qualified medical expenses. No other account receives better tax treatment. You can even transfer IRA money into an HSA.
- Archer Medical Savings Account (Archer MSA) – Archer MSAs are like HSAs for the self-employed or small businesses.
- Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) – HRAs are only offered by employers who set them up and contribute money to them. If your company offers one, make sure your plan allows the use of HRA funds to pay for “all qualified medical expenses.”
- Flexible Spending Account (FSA) – Both employers and employees can contribute to an FSA, also known by its IRS code, “Section 125”. Money from them can be taken out tax-free if it is used for qualified medical expenses.
See this page at IRS.gov for more information about each of these tax-favored health plans.
Canada is generous compared to other countries when it comes to medical tax deductions. If you have a prescription, receipt, or other documentation, you can write them off.
If surgery is covered by your insurance, you can still deduct your:
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Monthly insurance premium
If your income is below a certain amount, you may qualify for a tax credit called the refundable medical expense supplement.
You can write off your bariatric surgery expenses if the costs are over the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) threshold.
According to the ATO:
“To claim the net medical expenses tax offset in your tax return, you will need to know the total medical expenses you incurred for yourself and your dependants. You then deduct any refunds from Medicare, your health fund or any other reimbursements that relate to those expenses received during the financial year.”
Click here for updated Medicare Benefit Tax Statement information from the Department of Human Services.
Search the Weight Loss Surgeon directory below to find a top surgeon by country and region: