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Weight Loss Surgery Financing: 6 Options for This Procedure

Updated on:
Content was accurate at the time of publication.

Shedding excess pounds is a common health goal, but if you have to lose a large amount of weight, a trendy diet or exercise plan might not cut it. Enter weight loss surgery — typically a last resort for those with severe obesity or who can’t keep weight off by other means.

If your insurance provider won’t cover the cost of this expensive procedure, consider these weight loss surgery financing options.

Some of the most common types of weight loss surgery — also known as bariatric surgery — include gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy and adjustable gastric banding (or stomach stapling). While not as common, some surgeons perform biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch. Hundreds of thousands of people undergo these surgeries each year with successful results. The catch? They’re often quite pricey, and insurance coverage isn’t always a given.

According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the average cost of weight loss surgery is between $17,000 and $26,000. Not all insurance providers will cover the procedure, meaning many patients are responsible for paying out-of-pocket. Luckily, there are several financing options to help you foot the bill.

Insurance

First things first: Check if your health insurance provider will cover your procedure. Many preferred provider organization (PPO) plans with major insurance providers will cover weight loss surgery as long as you meet their criteria. These requirements could include:

  • A body mass index (BMI) over 40 (or 35 with a pre-existing condition like hypertension)
  • A documented history of previous weight loss attempts
  • Weight loss program required by insurance provider
  • No smoking before surgery
  • No substance abuse
  • You are 18 years of age or older
  • Psychological testing
  • Diagnosis of morbid obesity

Medicare plans may also cover weight loss surgery as long as you meet conditions related to morbid obesity.

Medical loans

A medical loan is a type of personal loan that can be used for medical expenses, such as weight loss surgery. These loans are typically best for people with good or excellent credit.

The loan amount and repayment terms will vary depending on the borrower, but they can be anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000 with terms ranging from 12 to 144 months. Some lenders have minimum credit score requirements and they’ll likely do a soft credit pull to see if you prequalify.

Annual percentage rates (APRs) for medical loans vary significantly but typically aren’t above 36%. The rate you secure will depend on your credit score, income, state of residence and other factors.

In-house financing

Some healthcare facilities offer their own weight loss surgery financing programs to help patients pay for their procedures. Some people like the streamlined nature of in-house financing as it’s a one-stop shop for payments.

However, in-house financing may come with higher APRs. For example, some healthcare facilities offer financing through a credit card called CareCredit, which has a standard APR of 29.99% (this is only applied if you don’t pay your balance in full). Bigger purchases tend to have better terms though. For instance, purchases of $1,000 or more can be eligible for an APR of 17.9% with a 24-month repayment plan.

Secured personal loans

A secured personal loan can be worth considering if you have a form of collateral — such as a car, house or savings account — to back up your loan. If you’ve struggled with your credit in the past, a secured personal loan could be a decent option as borrowers with less-than-stellar credit can qualify for a secured personal loan.

Secured personal loans tend to have better terms and APRs than unsecured loans because of the collateral they require, but they can be hard to come by. Plus, you risk losing an important form of collateral (like a savings account) if you don’t repay your loan.

No- or low-interest credit cards

A credit card could be an option if you find one with a low introductory interest rate. You could even qualify for a 0% intro APR credit card if you have good credit.

Although credit cards might seem like an attractive option, they can be risky. If you don’t repay your balance before the introductory APR ends, you’ll be stuck paying interest on the remaining balance. As of January 2024, the average credit card interest rate in the U.S. is a whopping 24.59%, according to LendingTree data.

Cash

As long as it’s not a health risk, if you can wait a year or two before having surgery, consider setting aside a certain amount of money each month to pay for your procedure. Paying for your weight loss surgery without going through a lender or forking out money for interest and fees can give you peace of mind as you won’t have to go into debt for your procedure.

The cost of weight loss surgery varies depending on the procedure. In addition to the surgery itself, you can likely expect to pay a surgeon’s fee, a hospital fee and an anesthesiologist fee. Other costs could include device fees and follow-up visit fees. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Gastric sleeve: This type of surgery involves a surgeon removing most of your stomach and leaving a small sleeve-like section that resembles a banana. Gastric sleeve surgery is not reversible, and the average cost can range from $15,000 to $25,000 without insurance.
  • Gastric bypass: This common surgery involves the surgeon stapling the stomach to make it smaller, then dividing the small intestine into two parts. The lower part of the intestine is reattached to the stomach so that food “bypasses” part of the intestine and stomach. Although it’s uncommon, the procedure can be reversed. The average cost is around $18,200 or more.
  • Adjustable gastric band: An adjustable gastric band procedure involves a surgeon placing an adjustable, inflatable band around the stomach to create a smaller pouch. The procedure often requires follow-up appointments to adjust the band. The average cost can range from $9,000 to $18,000.
  • Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch: This surgery is often used in patients with morbid obesity, and it’s a combination of sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass. The average cost is roughly $28,000.

After one year, the average gastric bypass surgery, gastric sleeve surgery or adjustable gastric banding patient lost between 38 and 87 pounds. Plus, research showed a patient’s health care costs were reduced by 29% on average in the five years following weight loss surgery due to the reduction of obesity-related conditions like diabetes and hypertension.

Even though it might take some time and effort to figure out how you’ll pay for it, weight loss surgery can be great if you’re looking to finally lose weight once and for all.

When considering weight loss surgery financing options, make sure you take into consideration your entire financial situation. Although weight loss surgery can be life-changing for your physical health, it’s important to make sure that it’s a good idea for your financial health, too.