Financial Help for Weight Loss Surgery Costs

| 7 min read Financial Assistance

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know how frustrating the process can be. In fact, an estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year—yet only around 5% are able to keep the weight off long-term. More and more people are turning to weight loss surgery as a way to themselves from the diet cycle in search of a happier and healthier life. Don’t let weight loss surgery costs prevent you from living the healthy life you deserve. Below, learn how you can pay for the medical procedure so you can begin focusing on achieving your goals. 

Start a medical fundraiser

Does insurance cover weight loss surgery?

If you are looking into weight loss surgery, health insurance coverage is probably one of the first questions on your mind. Yet even with coverage, you may end up paying some out of pocket medical expenses. Here are a few things you should know about using insurance for weight loss surgery: 

  • Approximately 25% of people seeking weight loss surgery are denied coverage three times before their health insurance approves the procedure according to Insure
  • Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 23 states are now required to cover weight loss surgery as part of all individual, family, or small group plans for companies with less than 50 employees. 
  • Insurance companies pay on average $21,500 per procedure, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care.
  • Working with your doctor to show that the procedure is medically-necessary can mean that you’ll be able to secure insurance coverage, in most cases.

Bariatric surgery costs

How much does weight loss surgery cost? The cost of bariatric surgery can range considerably, depending on the type of procedure you choose as well as your location. Below are estimates of what you can expect to pay for different types of surgery, with or without coverage. 

Gastric bypass surgery cost

The oldest and most common form of weight loss surgery, gastric bypass surgically re-routes a small portion of the stomach to the intestines. This procedure is typically covered by health insurance, though even with coverage it can be around $3,500.  

Gastric bypass surgery cost without insurance

The average cost of gastric bypass surgery without insurance is $23,000

Sleeve gastrectomy cost 

In this procedure, about 80% of a patient’s stomach is removed, reducing the amount of food the stomach can hold. This procedure is usually covered, and costs an average of $3,500 with insurance. 

Gastric sleeve costs without insurance

A sleeve gastrectomy costs roughly between $17,000 and $26,000 without insurance. 

Adjustable gastric band price 

Also called lap band surgery, an adjustable band is placed around the stomach and is used to restrict the amount of food you can eat. This procedure also costs about $3,500 with insurance.

Adjustable gastric band price without insurance

Lap band surgery ranges in cost from $8,800 to $22,500 without coverage. 

Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (BPD/DS) price 

BPD/DS removes a portion of the stomach, as well as limits the amount of calories that can be absorbed by the body. Deemed an experimental procedure, biliopancreatic diversion with a duodenal switch is typically not covered by insurance companies.

Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (BPD/DS) price without insurance

The most expensive option, a duodenal switch typically costs between $20,000 to $30,000 without insurance.

Three ways to get help paying for bariatric surgery

Nearly 250,000 bariatric surgeries were performed in 2017, and that number is only rising. Even though the initial price can be high, studies have shown that weight loss surgery pays for itself in about 3.5 years. Below, we list three resources you can use to get help paying for bariatric surgery: 

1. Government aid for weight loss surgery costs

The federal government can help pay for procedures for qualified patients under the Medicaid and Medicare programs. Both programs have eligibility restrictions, in addition to an application process and waiting period. 

  • Medicaid provides health insurance to low-income individuals and will cover gastric bypass surgery in certain extreme cases. Many requirements must be met in order for Medicaid to cover weight loss surgery, including medical proof that you have been morbidly obese for many years and have tried other methods to lose weight.
  • Medicare covers bariatric surgery for individuals over 65 years old who qualify as morbidly obese, since this is classified as a disability under the Social Security Act. You will still have to meet your deductibles before Medicare will pay, and you may be responsible for copays for follow-up visits after your procedure.

2. Charity support for bariatric surgery

The Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America is the premier nonprofit dedicated to helping people afford their procedures. The foundation raises funds to provide procedure assistance that will cover up to 90% of a qualified weight loss procedure. Below are some of the requirements to apply:

  • You must have a referral from your surgeon, who must practice at one of the procedure centers approved by the foundation.
  • You are either uninsured or denied coverage, or the procedure must not be covered by your insurance. 
  • You must agree to pay for 10% of the price of the procedure through a foundation-assisted fundraiser.

3. Online fundraising for costs

Figuring out how to pay for procedure expenses without insurance can be stressful. Plus, it takes courage to ask for help. With crowdfunding, you can fund your procedure in a safe space while helping to reduce the stigma around bariatric surgery for others who need it. And with GoFundMe, fundraising means that every donation made will go directly to your surgery. There are also no wait times—you can access your funds immediately. 

Follow these top medical fundraising tips so you can raise the money you need, when you need it most:

  • Connect with your donors by telling your story. Share your challenges, and be open and honest with donors about how funds will help impact your life. 
  • Share your fundraiser on social media, and ask your friends and family to share a link on their own accounts.
  • Host a fun fundraising event to ask for donations in person. This could be as simple as a walk-a-thon, or inviting the community together for a gathering in a local park.

Fundraising examples for weight loss surgery

Asking for help to pay for an expensive medical treatment isn’t always easy, but you may be surprised at how many friends and family members are willing to help. Surgery could save your life, and those who care about you will be more than happy to contribute. See how others are using the power of crowdfunding to help reach their weight loss goals: 

Paul’s weight loss surgery

Paul struggled with his weight from as early as five years old. As an adult, he decided he had to make a change when he weighed over 500 pounds and became very ill. To pay for weight loss surgery expenses not covered by his insurance company, Paul turned to his community of friends and family. Paul met his goal of close to $2,000 and was able to schedule his life-changing surgery.

Stephanie’s weight loss surgery

After trying diets that didn’t stick, Stephanie turned to weight loss surgery as a long-term solution. She started a fundraiser to help cover the surgery price, and raised over $3,200 to put toward gastric band surgery, thanks to supportive friends and family members. One year later, Stephanie is down almost 100 pounds.  

Find weight loss surgery financial help today

No matter your reasons for considering a procedure, there are many resources to help you meet your goals. Countless individuals have started a medical fundraiser to help cover costs—the investment in your health and quality of life is well worth it. Tap into the power of medical crowdfunding today so you can live your healthiest life. Sign up to start your fundraiser and raise money for your bariatric procedure today. 

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