Most recent update: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 17:07

Bariatric News - Cookies & privacy policy

You are here

Access o surgery

Surgery is cost-effective for BMI>35

Study claims a wider range of obese patients should have access to bariatric surgery
Surgery is cost-effective for BMI>35

According to a study from Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, a wider range of obese patients should have access to bariatric surgery because surgery would prove more cost-effective compared to a lifetime of medical costs treating obesity-related diseases. The research was published in the journal, Maturitas.


The investigators claim the study is the first to conduct cost-effectiveness analyses of bariatric surgery comparing obese patients with obesity-related diseases to obese people without comorbidities across different BMI categories, using the meta-analysis results of surgery outcomes for the effectiveness inputs. The researchers claim that this researcher differs from previous cost analyses because it draws data from a much larger number of studies. They acknowledged, however, that it does not differentiate between types of bariatric surgery, such as lap band and gastric bypass.


For the severely obese, the cost per QALY is about US$1,900 for those with obesity-related disease

“Insurance companies often pay for treating obesity-related diseases,” said Dr Su-Hsin Chang, a postdoctoral research associate in the Division of Public Health Sciences and first author on the study. “But a portion of those costs could be saved if they paid for bariatric surgery for a wider range of obese patients.”


The researchers analysed data from 170 studies looking at the effectiveness of bariatric surgery. The analysis only included studies that measured at least one outcome of interest such as weight loss, quality of life, complications and medical cost information. The cost-effectiveness analysis was derived for this data following estimations and simulations of life expectancies and quality of life of people who underwent surgery vs. the people who did not. 


“Based on our analysis, bariatric surgery should be an option that is universally available to all obese people” Su-Hsin Chang

For the super obese, the cost of bariatric surgery is less than the healthcare costs associated with not having the procedure. For the severely obese, the cost per quality of life year (QALY) is about US$1,900 for those with obesity-related disease and about US$3,800 for those who are otherwise healthy. Finally, for the moderately obese, the cost per QALY is about US$2,400 for those with related medical problems and US$3,900 for those who are healthy. While costs increase for healthier, less obese patients, all amounts are well below the US$50,000 threshold.


The investigators concluded that surgery treatment is in general cost-effective for people whose BMI is greater than 35 with or without obesity-related comorbidities. Furthrmore, they claim that surgery is even cost-saving for super obese (BMI ≥ 50) with obesity-related comorbidities. The results also suggest that surgery can be cost-effective for the mildly obese (BMI ≥30). “Based on our analysis, bariatric surgery should be an option that is universally available to all obese people,” added Chang.


Current National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines say candidates for bariatric surgery should have a body mass index BMI >40 or a BMI 35 to 40 if they also have obesity-related diseases. Most insurance companies pay for the procedure only if patients meet these criteria.

Want more stories like this? Subscribe to Bariatric News!

Bariatric News
Keep up to date! Get the latest news in your inbox.