Weight loss surgery can be a lifesaver for the morbidly obese, but it can also be expensive. Fortunately, there are many options for financing weight loss surgery.
The first thing you should look at is your health insurance policy. Many insurance policies cover weight loss surgery, as long as you meet certain criteria. If your current insurance policy does not cover weight loss surgery, you might want to change to a different policy. If you get your health insurance from your job, many employers offer a choice of two or more insurance plans. If your current policy doesn’t cover weight loss surgery, see if any of the other available plans do. Once a year, your employer will have an “open enrollment period” in which you can switch plans.
Of course, you can also purchase a health insurance policy on your own. You should know, though, that many individual health insurance plans do not cover weight loss surgery, so make sure you investigate this carefully before purchasing a plan.
If you don’t have insurance that will cover weight loss surgery, you can look into medical credit cards. These credit cards work like any other credit card, but are available specifically for medical expenses. A couple of credits cards to look at include Care Credit (www.carecredit.com) and Med Key (www.medkeyinc.com). You should know that not all physicians accept all medical credit cards. If you want to use a medical credit card to pay for your procedure, ask if they are accepted when looking for a surgeon.
Of course, you can use a regular Mastercard or VISA to pay for your surgery, as well. Nearly all doctors and hospitals accept these.
In addition, some bariatric surgeons offer payment plans for those without health insurance coverage. Hospitals may also offer payment plans. These plans may include a discount for those paying out-of-pocket as well as a monthly payment schedule. When looking for a surgeon, ask about possible payment plans if you are interested.
You can also simply shop around for prices for the surgical procedure of your choice. Of course, you should not select a surgeon based solely on his price. However, all things being equal, you may be able to save a significant amount of money by choosing one surgeon over another.
Some people choose to have their weight loss surgery abroad in order to save money. The cost of a gastric bypass, for instance, can vary widely from surgeon to surgeon and hospital to hospital, but a ballpark figure for a gastric bypass in the U.S. is around $20,000. A ballpark figure for lap band surgery is around $14,000. These procedures can be had for about half this amount, however, in Mexico or Costa Rica, and that price usually includes lodging and meals in those countries. There are some excellent surgeons and medical facilities in other countries, but when investigating this option, you should take care to investigate the credentials of the surgeon to make sure you are getting someone skilled in the procedure of your choice.
If you are paying for your weight loss surgery yourself, whether you are using a credit card or your surgeon’s payment plan or simply dipping into your savings account, you should be prepared for the possibility of complications that could drastically increase your costs. Even if you have health insurance, if that insurance policy is not covering your weight loss surgery, it probably will not cover the cost of any complications resulting from your surgery, either. Some doctors offer a sort of “insurance program” for self-pay patients, where you pay a set fee and it covers any complications immediately resulting from the surgery or even any complications arising during the first year after surgery. It’s recommended you take advantage of such an insurance program if one is available, since complications can be very, very expensive.