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Loan and finance options for weight loss surgery in Australia

Can’t afford weight loss surgery? Here are some options to consider.

If you're in need of weight loss surgery, you may find yourself out of pocket even with Medicare and private health insurance. While insurance may cover some of the costs involved, it may not be enough.

Additionally, some weight loss procedures may not be covered by either Medicare or private health insurance. In fact, our data shows that less than 1% of Australians have made a hospital claim related to weight loss surgery1.

If you're looking for ways to finance your surgery, there are a number of options.

How can I pay for weight loss surgery?

You should first make sure that you understand whether you're covered by insurance. Many bariatric procedures are at least partially covered.

You may also find that your insurance provider covers specific doctors and medical facilities for the procedure you've opted for.

If your insurance doesn't cover the full cost of the surgery, here are some other options:

  • Medical payment plan. Many hospitals and medical practices offer plans that allow patients to pay their bills in instalments. Instead of paying at once, you can pay it in stages, often without interest.
  • Personal loan. Most personal loans can be used to cover the cost of voluntary surgeries.
  • Peer-to-peer loan. You can fund your weight loss surgery through a loan funded by investors instead of a financial institution. This is called a peer-to-peer loan. Interest rates are sometimes lower than standard personal loans.
  • Credit card. If your procedure doesn't cost more than your credit limit, it might be easier to put it on your credit card if you know you can pay it off quickly.
  • Family and friends. If you're having trouble pulling together the funds, you could consider asking relatives or loved ones for financing. They might not charge interest, but your relationship could be under strain if you're slow to pay it back.

Will Medicare cover weight loss surgery?

This will depend on the type of surgery you opt for. Additionally, even if Medicare covers the surgery, it may only cover a small part of the cost.

Private health insurance coverage may cover more than Medicare, but you could still be left several thousand dollars out of pocket.

Getting a personal loan to pay for weight loss surgery

Personal loans can be used for any worthwhile purpose and this includes medical procedures. As weight loss surgeries can be expensive, even with private health insurance, a personal loan can help cover these costs. There are also personal loans specific to medical purposes.

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Name Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp. Rate (p.a.) Application Fee Monthly Fee Monthly Repayment
OurMoneyMarket Personal Loan
Fixed1 - 7 Years $2,001 - $75,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
6.57%
to 18.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
7.19%
to 21.78%
Application Fee
1.50% - 6%
min. $250
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$130.20
Go to siteMore Info
NOW Finance No Fee Unsecured Personal Loan
Finder award winnerFixed18 Months - 7 Years $5,000 - $50,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
6.75%
to 26.95%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
6.75%
to 26.95%
Application Fee
$0
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$129.72
Go to siteMore Info
Harmoney Unsecured Personal Loan
Finder award winnerFixed3 - 7 Years $2,000 - $70,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
5.76%
to 24.03%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
6.55%
to 24.98%
Application Fee
$275 - $575
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$120.20
Go to siteMore Info
Latitude Variable Rate Personal Loan
Variable2 - 7 Years $5,000 - $70,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
9.49%
to 29.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
10.37%
to 30.69%
Application Fee
$0
Monthly Fee
$13
Monthly Repayment
$181.02
Go to siteMore Info
Special Finder offer: $395 establishment fee waived for approved personal loan applications submitted through Finder. Latitude may withdraw offer at any time. T&Cs apply.
ING Personal Loan
Finder award winnerFixed2 - 7 Years $5,000 - $60,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
6.89%
to 18.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
7.10%
to 19.23%
Application Fee
$150
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$132.57
Go to siteMore Info
Pepper Money No Fee Unsecured Personal Loan
Finder award winnerFixed18 Months - 7 Years $5,000 - $50,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
6.75%
to 26.95%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
6.75%
to 26.95%
Application Fee
$0
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$129.72
Go to siteMore Info
Citi Personal Loan Plus
Variable3 - 5 Years $2,000 - $55,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
10.90%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
11.19%
Application Fee
$199
Monthly Fee
$10
Monthly Repayment
$200.84
Go to siteMore Info
Special Offer: Monthly Fee of $10 waived for applications submitted before 30 June 2024.
NAB Personal Loan Unsecured Fixed
Fixed1 - 7 Years $5,000 - $55,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
6.99%
to 20.49%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
7.91%
to 21.33%
Application Fee
$150
Monthly Fee
$10
Monthly Repayment
$143.92
Go to siteMore Info
NAB Personal Loan Unsecured Variable Rate
Variable1 - 7 Years $5,000 - $55,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
6.99%
to 20.49%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
7.91%
to 21.33%
Application Fee
$150
Monthly Fee
$10
Monthly Repayment
$143.92
Go to siteMore Info
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How much does weight loss surgery cost?

HHow much surgery costs will depend on the type of surgery and whether your insurance will cover any part of it.

Most weight loss surgeries are a type of bariatric surgery. This is a procedure that involves altering the digestive system.

There are also cosmetic procedures like liposuction or a tummy tuck that can help you lose weight initially. However, they may not help you keep it off in the long term.

Before deciding on any surgical procedure, you should consult a medical professional. Some weight loss procedures allow you to claim a Medicare rebate, but this often covers only a small portion of the overall cost.

Type of weight loss surgeryWhat it doesCost
Gastric BypassA type of bariatric surgery.

It decreases the size of the stomach. It also changes how your stomach and small intestine absorb food.

Your stomach is divided into two pouches, one smaller than the other. The small pouch is attached to the lower part of your small intestine. The food will bypass most of the stomach and the first part of the small intestine.

The surgery reduces the volume of food your stomach can hold. It also alters the calories and nutrients your body can absorb.

It's typically reserved for patients with a BMI of 40 or higher.

  • With private health insurance: $4,000 to $6,000, Medicare rebates not included.
  • Without private insurance: $16,000 to $18,000, Medicare rebates not included.
Gastric or lap bandA type of bariatric surgery.

This procedure is less invasive than other options. An adjustable band is placed around the top of the stomach. This is to create a smaller opening where food can enter.

Doctors suggest using a lap band in addition to a weight loss plan. This is because it likely won't reduce hunger and can be minimally effective if you don't change your diet.

  • With private health insurance: $2,500 to $5,500, Medicare rebates not included.
  • Without private insurance: $10,000 to $16,000, Medicare rebates not included.
Gastric sleeveA type of bariatric surgery.

It involves removing part of your stomach, sometimes as much as 80%.

It restricts the amount and types of food you can eat at once. Like a gastric bypass, you aren't able to absorb as many nutrients as you would with a full-sized stomach.

It's also typically reserved for patients with a BMI of 40 or higher.

  • With private health insurance: $4,000 to $6,000, Medicare rebates not included.
  • Without private insurance: $16,000 to $18,000, Medicare rebates not included.
Gastric balloonA type of bariatric surgery.

It involves a doctor inserting a balloon into your stomach through your mouth. It is then filled with saline to reduce your food cravings.

It is a less invasive alternative to bariatric surgery for patients with a lower BMI.

  • Without private insurance: $5,825 on average. Insurance often does not cover the procedure, but may cover the gastroscopy.
Gastric sleeveThis is a type of cosmetic surgery.

It involves the removal of excess fat deposits from your body.

It can't treat weight-related health problems. Experts recommend it for people within 10 to 15kgs of their healthy weight (or 24.9 BMI).

  • This typically costs from $3,000 onwards. The cost increases based on the number of targeted areas.
  • Medicare does not cover this. Private health insurance may not either.

When researching bariatric surgery, you may come across the terms restrictive and malabsorptive to describe specific procedures. Malabsorptive refers to limiting food absorption by bypassing parts of the small intestine. Restrictive is when stomach size is reduced by limiting food intake.

Other weight loss procedures

Other less conventional procedures can be more expensive. This is because insurance is less likely to cover part of it. Some of these procedures include vagal nerve blocking. This procedure involves implanting a device in your body that sends electrical signals sent to your brain. These signals disrupt the sensation of hunger. There is also aspiration, which involves the addition of a device that keeps your stomach from digesting food.

What's the least expensive weight loss surgery?

If you have private health insurance, a gastric or lap band surgery might be the least expensive weight loss surgery. With private health insurance and without Medicare rebates, this surgery can cost from $2,500 to $5,500. Without private insurance and Medicare rebates, it can cost from $10,000 to $16,000.

If you're not looking for a procedure covered by insurance, then a gastric balloon surgery might be the least expensive. It costs around $5,825. Insurance may cover the cost of the gastroscopy.

While cost is an important consideration, you should also base your decision on what your doctor recommends.

Should I go overseas for weight loss surgery?

Travelling overseas for your weight loss surgery might prove to be cheaper. But it can come with many risks. Medical tourism is growing in popularity, but it has its disadvantages. Some of them may outweigh the potential benefits.

Additionally, Australia's healthcare system ranked 3rd in a global health system comparison for 2021. Only Norway and the Netherlands scored higher. This means that the current healthcare system, while it has its flaws, is easily one of the best in the world. The access to quality healthcare, therefore, isn't out of reach, even if there are out-of-pocket expenses to consider.

However, before committing to anything you should speak to a medical health professional first. Not all situations are alike and will have to be individually assessed.

Pros

  • Might be cheaper.
  • You may have access to highly skilled surgeons.

Cons

⚠️ You'll have to take into consideration the post-surgery recovery period. It may not be as easy as flying in and out. You may have to stay put until you've fully recovered, which can take months.

⚠️ In case there are complications, some of which can be serious and life threatening, you'll have to navigate a foreign healthcare system.

⚠️ You'll have to work out how to manage post-surgery aftercare. If you have to return to the doctor for further care, it may end up costing you more.

⚠️ Travelling may expose you to pathogens and illnesses, which may complicate recovery or prove fatal.

⚠️ Working out insurance and providers may be tricky. You'll be in another country and you'll also have to figure out how their healthcare system works.

⚠️ There are additional costs to consider, like your airfare and accommodation.

⚠️ It may be difficult to ascertain the quality of patient care and hospital facilities. They may not have the same medical standards as Australia.

⚠️ You may not be able to access the support of family and friends.

3 tips to help you prepare for weight loss surgery

  • Budget for loss of income. It's not uncommon for patients to need longer than their paid leave allows to recover. Prepare a budget to cover any time not covered by your pay cheque. You'll have to take into consideration recovery and potential, unexpected side effects.
  • Voice your concerns. If you have any doubts or physical concerns about surgery, talk to your doctor. You might end up discussing a topic you didn't realise was important. It could improve your experience with surgery.
  • Quit smoking. Many doctors may require you to quit smoking. Even if yours doesn't, stopping at least a month ahead may speed up your recovery and prevent complications. You'll likely need to avoid smoking at least a month after your surgery to avoid respiratory complications.

Bottom line

You don't have to put off weight-loss surgery if it's crucial to maintaining your health. Personal loans, in-house payment plans and medical loans can help you manage costs that your insurance doesn't cover.

If you think a personal loan is for you, you can get started with our guide to personal loans.

How can I apply for a personal loan?

👁 Check out our guide to personal loans. It provides an overview of personal loans and can help you find the right loan for you.

💵 Compare lenders. Look at the fees, terms and eligibility criteria and find a loan that suits you.

🔍 Once you've settled on a lender from the comparison table, click "Go to site" to visit the lender's website.

✍ You can submit an online application. Keep all the documents required handy as it will speed up the process.

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