Gastric Bypass Surgery Saves Money with long-term Medical Costs

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(Best Syndication News) - Bariatric surgery helps people lose weight and might also save money spent on future obese related medical expenses said a recent study. Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found long-term financial benefits for obese, whether mild or severe cases, that could benefit from the weight loss surgery. The study was published in the journal Maturitas.

The financial savings were calculated from patients who has undergone bariatric surgery and lost weight. They tended to keep the weight off compared to other methods. Because they kept the extra weight off, this reduced their chances for developing medical complications from diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. The researchers said that most severely obese patients usually have these diseases already. Losing the weight could improve their health situation.

Su-Hsin Chang, PhD, a postdoctoral research associate in the Division of Public Health Sciences, and lead author of the study, said that insurance companies might be able to save medical costs by offering bariatric surgery to a wider range of obese people.

Currently most health insurance companies will only pay for bariatric surgery that meets the National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines. In order for a person to get bariatric surgery, they must have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher. This equates to around 100 pounds of being overweight for men and 80 pounds of excess body weight for women. The NIH also say that people with obesity related diseases with a BMI of 35 to 40 could also get bariatric surgery.

Chang suggests that insurance company should expand coverage for the bariatric surgery with more obese people. The reason is that the insurance company will save money on future medical costs treating other weight related diseases.

Bariatric surgery costs $20,000 - $25,000 for the initial procedure.
The study found that a super obese person with a BMI of 50 or higher showed that over a lifetime the bariatric surgery is less expensive than the medical expenses would have been if the person remained obese and did not have the procedure.

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The quality-adjusted life year (QALY) is $50,000, which is what most people would be willing to pay to get another year of life from undergoing a treatment. Anything less than $50,000 is thought of as being cost effective in terms of QALY.

Obese people that had a BMI of 40-50 showed a quality of life year (QALY) cost is $1,900 when they had a weight related disease, and $3,800 for otherwise healthy people. BMI ratings of 35-40 had a QALY cost of $2,400 with weight related diseases and $3,900 for healthy individuals. These numbers fall way under $50,000, which the researchers say is a cost effective treatment.

Chang said that other studies have reported higher costs associated with undergoing bariatric surgery, but these studies did not look at medical costs of those people that remain obese over a lifetime.

The researchers in this study looked at bariatric surgery in general, and did not analyze data for each kind of weight loss surgeries, which include lap band and gastric bypass.

By: Marsha Quinn

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