Paying for weight loss surgery can be a frustrating process. You know what you need to do to create a healthier life for yourself, but you may not be able to afford it, particularly if your insurance won't pay.
On average, a gastric bypass costs between $18,000 and $35,000, and an adjustable gastric band costs $17,000 to $30,000. Clearly, those costs prohibit many people from getting weight loss, but there are several payment options you can use to pay for your weight loss surgery. You may even be able to use a combination of these methods to cover the cost of your surgery.
Because weight loss surgery is often such a necessary step to improving overall levels of health, it may actually be covered – or at least partially covered – by your health insurance provider. If your doctor considers weight loss surgery to be medically necessary for you and if you meet the National Institutes of Health requirements, your insurance provider may cover most or all of the cost of your weight loss surgery.
The best way to find out about this is to ask. Call your insurance provider to find out if and when weight loss surgery might be covered, and figure out what you'd need to do to cover it. Of course, you'll also need to see how much of the surgery your insurance provider will cover, so you'll be prepared to pay whatever copay or coinsurance fees are left over. In addition, talk to your doctor about what treatments you'll need in addition to your weight loss surgery, such as vitamin B12 injections, nutritional supplements, or meetings with a dietician, and see if your insurance provider will cover any of those services.
If at all possible, it can be a good idea to save up for your weight loss surgery and to pay for it in cash. If you think you have the cash on hand to cover your surgery, talk to different surgeons and hospitals in your area about overall costs. Some will give a significant discount if you pay in cash, since they won't have to deal with the insurance provider. You may also be able to set up a cash payment plan if this will fit into your budget over the next several months.
Jamie Scott from CreditDonkey says,
"Surprisingly, it's not unheard of for people to pay for major medical procedures like weight loss surgery with credit cards."
Make sure you can get a great deal on a credit card and will have a high enough limit that you can cover your weight loss surgery. A credit card payment is a good supplementary option to insurance coverage, since you can use it to pay for your copays or the extra procedures and treatments your insurance provider doesn't cover.
If you can find a card that will give you zero interest for a year or so, you may be able to pay off your surgery gradually without having to pay much interest on it at all. However, be sure that you calculate what your minimum monthly payments will be before you charge your surgery to the card. With many zero-interest deals, if you can't make the minimum payments, you must automatically start paying interest on the card, which can really sink you financially.
Flex or Health Savings Account
These types of savings accounts are just for surgeries and other medical costs. Before you open one, make sure the rules allow you to use the funds for weight loss surgery, as the types of medical procedures for which you can use the funding are often restricted.
A flex savings account is an account that you can open through an employer. With this type of account, you'll contribute pre-tax dollars out of your paycheck to the account each pay period. If you decide to put $2,000 total into the account, for instance, your employer will take roughly $166 a month out of your paycheck to put into the account. By the end of the year, you'll have contributed $2,000. However, the funds will technically be available to you starting in January, so you can finance medical procedures at the end of the year, even while you're still contributing to your account throughout the year.
A health savings account can be opened independently if you have high deductible insurance coverage through an employer or through independent insurance coverage. These accounts also come with tax deductions, but you can't use money that hasn't been contributed yet. However, an HSA is a good option for saving up for weight loss surgery, since you get tax benefits, as well.
Some non-profit groups, such as the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America, are actually donating funds to those who need weight loss surgery for medical reasons but are unable to pay for it for themselves. Contact these organizations first hand to see if they can help you pay for weight loss surgery or even plastic surgery for excess skin removal after the surgery is over.
Paying for weight loss surgery can be difficult, but by using one or a combination of these five options, you can get a healthier lifestyle with the weight loss surgery you need.
About the author: This was a guest post by Jamie Scott.