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. If you're looking for ways to finance your surgery, a personal loan may be able to cover your medical bills.
What do you want to learn about first?
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 will only cover a small part of the cost. It may not be significant enough for you to rely on it solely. Private health insurance coverage may cover more than Medicare, but you will still be left several thousand dollars out of pocket.
Can I use a personal loan to pay for weight loss surgery?
Yes, you can. A personal loan is a type of consumer loan. Personal loans can be used for any worthwhile purpose. 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.
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 surgery||What it does||Cost|
|Gastric Bypass||A 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.
|Gastric or lap band||A 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.
|Gastric sleeve||A 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.
|Gastric balloon||A 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.
|Gastric sleeve||This 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).
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.
How else 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.
Other financing options include:
- Medical payment plans. 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.
- Peer-to-peer loans. 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 cards. 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.
Did you know?
Lenders consider secured loans less risky than unsecured personal loans. A secured loan requires an asset as collateral, while an unsecured loan doesn't. They are considered less risky because the lender can sell the asset if you're unable to repay your loan on time. In this situation, your credit will likely suffer, but you might avoid a lawsuit with your creditor for defaulting.
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.
- Might be cheaper.
- You may have access to highly skilled surgeons.
⚠️ 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.
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.
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