Bariatric Surgery Does Not Reduce Health Care CostsMain Category: Obesity / Weight Loss / Fitness
Also Included In: Public Health
Article Date: 21 Feb 2013
Bariatric surgery is not associated with reducing long term health care costs, reveals a study published in JAMA Surgery which analyzed a huge sample of insurance claims data.
Bariatric surgery is commonly carried out for weight loss and treatment for obesity. Currently, obesity is one of the biggest health care system burdens in the U.S., incurring costs of billions every year.
Bariatric surgery simply means weight loss surgery.
In the January 4, 2013 issue of JAMA, researchers identified that bariatric surgery is associated with a reduced long-term incidence of cardiovascular deaths and events such as heart attack and stroke.
The researchers, led by Jonathan P. Weiner, DrPH., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, analyzed and compared the insurance claims data of people who received bariatric surgery with a nonsurgical group, and evaluated the overall health care cost difference. A total of 18 million people were enrolled across the seven health insurance plans analyzed.
The authors said:
"A major finding of this study is that overall health care resource use among obese individuals undergoing bariatric surgery is relatively stable during the six years following surgery.
The results of the study showed that costs were higher in the second and third year in the bariatric group, but this leveled out to be similar to the comparison group in later years.
Interestingly, office visit costs were lower in the bariatric group, yet inpatient costs were higher. They also identified that costs for patients who underwent laparoscopic surgery were initially quite low, but this wasn't lasting.
In conclusion, the authors wrote that bariatric surgery is not linked to a reduction in long-term health care costs. In addition, there are currently no data to indicate whether a specific type of surgery can reduce costs.
The authors concluded:
"To assess the value of bariatric surgery, future studies should focus on the potential benefit of improved health and well-being of persons undergoing the procedure rather than on cost savings," the study concludes."
However, there is also research, published in the American Journal of Managed Care, that suggests health insurers could actually offset the cost of laparoscopic or traditional bariatric surgery within two to four years as a result of savings on other medical costs.
There are two types of bariatric surgeryThere are two main types of weight loss surgery:
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