Economic Impact of Bariatric Surgery

Articles highlighting the return on investment and economic impact of bariatric surgery.


Economic Impact of the Clinical Benefits of Bariatric Surgery in Diabetes Patients With BMI >/= 35 kg/m(2). 
Klein et al. Sept 2010
PubMed Abstract

ABSTRACT: The medical costs for a type 2 diabetes patient are two to four times greater than the costs for a patient without diabetes. Bariatric surgery is the most effective weight-loss therapy and has marked therapeutic effects on diabetes. We estimate the economic effect of the clinical benefits of bariatric surgery for diabetes patients with BMI >/= 35 kg/m(2). Using an administrative claims database of privately insured patients covering 8.5 million lives 1999-2007, we identify obese patients with diabetes, aged 18-65 years, who were treated with bariatric surgery identified using Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System codes. These patients were matched with nonsurgery control patients on demographic factors, comorbidities, and health-care costs. The overall return on investment (RoI) associated with bariatric surgery was calculated using multivariate analysis. Surgery and control patients were compared postindex with respect to diagnostic claims for diabetes, diabetes medication claims, and adjusted diabetes medication and supply costs. Surgery costs were fully recovered after 26 months for laparoscopic surgery. At month 6, 28% of surgery patients had a diabetes diagnosis, compared to 74% of control patients (P < 0.001). Among preindex insulin users, insulin use dropped to 43% by month 3 for surgery patients, vs. 84% for controls (P < 0.001). By month 1, medication and supply costs were significantly lower for surgery patients (P < 0.001). The therapeutic benefits of bariatric surgery on diabetes translate into considerable economic benefits. These data suggest that surgical therapy is clinically more effective and ultimately less expensive than standard therapy for diabetes patients with BMI >/= 35 kg/m(2).


Medication utilization and annual health care costs in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus before and after bariatric surgery. 
Makary et al. Aug 2010
PubMed Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship of bariatric surgery with the use of diabetes medications and with total health care costs in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

DESIGN: We studied 2235 adults with type 2 diabetes and commercial health insurance who underwent bariatric surgery in the United States during a 4-year period from January 1, 2002, through December 31, 2005. We used administrative claims data to measure the use of diabetes medications at specified time intervals before and after surgery and total median health care costs per year.

SETTING: Seven states in the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Obesity Care Collaborative.

PATIENTS: Two thousand two hundred thirty-five patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus who underwent bariatric surgery.

RESULTS: Surgery was associated with elimination of diabetes medication therapy in 1669 of 2235 patients (74.7%) at 6 months, 1489 of 1847 (80.6%) at 1 year, and 906 of 1072 (84.5%) at 2 years after surgery. Reduction of use was observed in all classes of diabetes medications. The median cost of the surgical procedure and hospitalization was $29,959. In the 3 years following surgery, total annual health care costs per person increased by 9.7% ($616) in year 1 but then decreased by 34.2% ($2179) in year 2 and by 70.5% ($4498) in year 3 compared with a preoperative annual cost of $6376 observed from 1 to 2 years before surgery.

CONCLUSIONS: Bariatric surgery is associated with reductions in the use of medication and in overall health care costs in patients with type 2 diabetes. Health insurance should cover bariatric surgery because of its health and cost benefits.


A Study on the Economic Impact of Bariatric Surgery
Bushwald et al. Sept 2008
PubMed Abstract 

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the private third-party payer return on investment for bariatric surgery in the United States.

STUDY DESIGN: Morbidly obese patients aged 18 years or older were identified in an employer claims database of more than 5 million beneficiaries (1999-2005) using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification code 278.01. Each of 3651 patients who underwent bariatric surgery during this period was matched to a control subject who was morbidly obese and never underwent bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery patients and controls were matched based on patient demographics, selected comorbidities, and costs.

METHODS: Total healthcare costs for bariatric surgery patients and their controls were recorded for 6 months before surgery through the end of their continuous enrollment. To account for potential differences in patient characteristics, we calculated the cost differential by estimating a Tobit model. A return on investment was estimated from the resulting coefficients. Costs were inflation adjusted to 2005 US dollars using the Consumer Price Index for Medical Care, and the cost savings were discounted by 3.07%, the 3-month Treasury bill rate during the same period.

RESULTS: The mean bariatric surgery investment ranged from approximately $17,000 to $26,000. After controlling for observable patient characteristics, we estimated all costs to have been recouped within 2 years for laparoscopic surgery patients and within 4 years for open surgery patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Downstream savings associated with bariatric surgery are estimated to offset the initial costs in 2 to 4 years. Randomized or quasiexperimental studies would be useful to confirm this conclusion, as unobserved characteristics may influence the decision to undergo surgery and cannot be controlled for in this analysis.


The impact of weight reduction surgery on health-care costs in morbidly obese patients. 
Christou et al. Aug 2004
PubMed Abstract 

BACKGROUND: The treatment of obesity and related comorbidities are significant financial burdens and sources of resource expenditure. This study was conducted in order to assess the impact of weight-reduction surgery on health-related costs.

METHODS: This was an observational two-cohort study. The treatment cohort included patients having undergone weight-reduction (bariatric) surgery at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) between 1986 and 2002. The control group included age and gender matched obese patients who had not undergone weight-reduction surgery from the Quebec provincial health insurance database (RAMQ). The cohorts were followed for a maximum of 5 years from inception. The primary outcome measure was overall direct healthcare costs. Secondary outcomes included cost analysis by diagnostic category for the treatment of new medical conditions following cohort inception.

RESULTS: The cohorts were well-matched for age, gender and duration of follow-up. Patients having undergone bariatric surgery had significant reductions in mean percent initial excess weight loss (67.1%, P <0.001) and in percent change in initial body mass index (34.6%, P <0.001). Bariatric surgery patients had higher total costs for hospitalizations (per 1,000 patients) in the first year following cohort inception (surgery cohort = CDN 12,461,938 dollars; control cohort = CDN 3,609,680 dollars). At 5 years after cohort inception, average cumulative costs for operated patients were CDN 19,516,667 dollars versus CDN 25,264,608 dollars, for an absolute difference of almost CDN 6,000,000 dollars per 1,000 patients.

CONCLUSION: Weight-reduction surgery in morbidly obese patients produces effective weight loss and decreases long-term direct health-care costs. The initial costs of surgery can be amortized over 3.5 years.