Bariatric Surgery Does Not Reduce Total Health Care Costs Over Time

By | March 12, 2013

With colleagues at Johns Hopkins University, Center faculty member Shari Bolen, MD, MPH recently published an article in JAMA-Surgery that evaluated costs after bariatric surgery using insurance claims data from 7 different states in the U.S. (first article). As compared with obese individuals who did not undergo surgery, costs were not different for individuals undergoing bariatric surgery after 6 years of follow-up. According to Dr. Bolen, Òwhile bariatric surgery may not reduce health care costs in the short-term, we still do not know the longer term effects, say after 15 to 20 years, when cost savings might accrue as a result of better control of diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases, as we have shown in the past (second article). In my opinion, we should continue to focus on lifestyle management of obesity, saving bariatric surgery for those individuals with severe obesity that affects their quality of life or for those with poorly controlled co-morbid illnesses.Ófirst article, second article