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Bariatric Surgery May be the Answer to the High Cost of Obesity


Bariatric surgery can cost a significant amount of money, but that money is relatively inconsequential when weighed against the cost of obesity on an individual’s quality of life. The cost of lap band surgery in Detroit varies from practice to practice and is an important consideration when beginning the journey of bariatric weight loss, but it should not be the only criteria when picking a facility or surgeon. Field experience and positive patient experience are also important factors. Harper BMI’s affordability calculator indicates a seriously overweight person spends $2,500 on out-of-pocket healthcare expenses each year. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as cost is concerned.

Almost two-thirds of Michigan qualifies as overweight or obese, and childhood obesity rates have increased at an alarming rate in the past 30 years. One-fifth of the state’s adolescent population is now obese. Diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure loom large for Americans.  The relatively small surgical cost of lap band seems worth it when taking into account the bigger financial picture.

Doctors involved in bariatric surgery in Michigan have been aware of the rise in medical bills for the obese in the state and the country for quite some time. But the real-life costs are noteworthy as well. Bariatric surgery is cheap when compared to the mounting cost of maintaining obesity. And procedural gastric bypass may become even more affordable as surgeons increase their patient loads.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in concordance with the non-profit RTI Institute conducted a study in 2009. The study revealed the direct and indirect cost of obesity – $147 billion every year.  The study showed obese patients spent on average $1,429 more for health care than those not classified as obese – a 42 percent disparity and whopping 9.1 percent of all medical spending

According to the study’s findings, Medicaid and Medicare, as well as private insurers increased spending because of the uptick in obesity from just over six percent in 1998 to almost 10 percent in 2006.

A Journal Health Affairs study found hospitalization costs related to childhood obesity rose from more than $100 million in 2005. George Washington University expanded on that research and took quantitative steps to measure some of the real-life costs associated with obesity sopping up the GDP. Researchers calculated things like employee sick days, extra gasoline cost (a reality of obesity), and a loss of productivity to find the annual cost of obesity. It tallies up to almost $3,000 per year for men, and almost $5,000 for women. The numbers were substantially less for those classified as overweight. In regard to the gender inconsistency, other studies have shown heavier women earn less than thin women, while wages remain fairly consistent throughout the varying male weight designations. Bariatric surgery is a possible solution to the weight problem, but sadly sexism in the workplace is an entirely different problem, with a much more complex solution, if there is one at all.

Researchers assumed wages would take a hit across the board for those suffering from obesity, but were surprised to find women were at a greater disadvantage. The economic value of lost life was also taken into account; early death being another unfortunate reality of obesity. Women’s annual obesity costs skyrocketed to $8,000 and men's to almost $7,000. Strangely, these numbers aren’t that different from the cost of lap band surgery.

Health economist Eric Finkelstein at the RTI Institute worked extensively with the CDC to determine their health costs of obesity. He says he is concerned the incentives for employers to combat the epidemic internally just aren’t there. It seems the short duration employees work for companies (an average of 4.5 years) mask the progressive nature of obesity-related health conditions. An employer would have to keep an employee for at least 20 years to reap the benefits, and eliminate those extra costs, of helping his or her employees achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Author Bio: Michael H. Wood, M.D., FACS is the Director of the Bariatric Surgery Program at Harper BMI at the Detroit Medical Center. Dr. Wood is also the Clinical Professor of Surgery at Wayne State University. He is board certified with the American Board of Surgery and has over 25 years of surgical experience and an extensive background in weight loss surgery and advanced laparoscopic procedures.

To learn more about the cost of obesity on your life, call us at 877.362.9898 or contact us online.

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About your new self at Detroit Center in Michigan

Detroit Medical Center is the premier provider of weight loss surgery in Michigan and the Great Lakes Region. DMC operates offices in the Madison Heights and Southfield areas of Detroit, Michigan, and serves other areas including Ypsilanti, Saginaw, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Livonia, Monroe, Lansing, Dearborn, Novi and Troy. Your New Self also serves Canadian bariatric patients as a preferred provider for the Ontario Ministry of Health.

Your New Self at Detroit Medical Center boasts four expert bariatric surgeons who specialize in LAP-BAND®, REALIZE® Band, Sleeve Gastrectomy, and Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass bariatric surgeries.

Patients interested in weight loss surgery should sign up for a free informational seminar to learn more about their surgical options and get started today.