Impact of bariatric surgery on health care costs of obese persons: a 6-year follow-up of surgical and comparison cohorts using health plan data

Published: June 1, 2013
Category: Bibliography > Papers
Authors: Bolen SD, Chang HY, Clark JM, Goodwin SM, Johns RA, Momin SR, Richards TM, Weiner JP
Countries: United States
Language: null
Types: Population Health
Settings: Health Plan, PCP

JAMA Surg 148:555-561.

Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA

IMPORTANCE: Bariatric surgery is a well-documented treatment for obesity, but there are uncertainties about the degree to which such surgery is associated with health care cost reductions that are sustained over time.

OBJECTIVE: To provide a comprehensive, multiyear analysis of health care costs by type of procedure within a large cohort of privately insured persons who underwent bariatric surgery compared with a matched nonsurgical cohort.

DESIGN: Longitudinal analysis of 2002-2008 claims data comparing a bariatric surgery cohort with a matched nonsurgical cohort.

SETTING: Seven BlueCross BlueShield health insurance plans with a total enrollment of more than 18 million persons.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 29 820 plan members who underwent bariatric surgery between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2008, and a 1:1 matched comparison group of persons not undergoing surgery but with diagnoses closely associated with obesity.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Standardized costs (overall and by type of care) and adjusted ratios of the surgical group’s costs relative to those of the comparison group.

RESULTS: Total costs were greater in the bariatric surgery group during the second and third years following surgery but were similar in the later years. However, the bariatric group’s prescription and office visit costs were lower and their inpatient costs were higher. Those undergoing laparoscopic surgery had lower costs in the first few years after surgery, but these differences did not persist.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Bariatric surgery does not reduce overall health care costs in the long term. Also, there is no evidence that any one type of surgery is more likely to reduce long-term health care costs. 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.

Comment in:  Is bariatric surgery worth it?: Comment on “Impact of bariatric surgery on health care costs of obese persons”.  ngston EH. JAMA Surg. 2013 Jun; 148(6):562.

PMID: 23426865

Cost Burden Evaluation,Population Markers,Process Measures,United States,Diagnostic Certainty,Adolescent,Adult,Aged,Co-morbidity,Cost of Illness,Gender,Gastric Bypass,Gastroplasty,Middle Aged,Obesity/epidemiology,Obesity/surgery,Obesity,Morbid/economics

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