Making Choices About Surgery

These tools are designed to assist those considering bariatric surgery.

Paying for Surgery

Working with your insurance provider for coverage of bariatric surgery can often be a difficult task. Your insurance policy may or may not cover bariatric surgery and such coverage varies widely depending on your location and employer.

Most bariatric practices have a dedicated staff to help you navigate your insurance policy; however, in the event they do not, there are resources available. The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals affected by obesity, provides an excellent free resource titled, “Working with Your Insurance Provider: A Guide to Seeking Weight-Loss Surgery.” This guide offers valuable information on identifying the type of insurance policy your employer provides, the pre-approval process for bariatric surgery, how to appeal a denied claim, sample appeal letters and much more. You can view the OAC’s insurance guide online on the OAC website. Hard copies can also be ordered from OAC.

Medical Tourism

It is the stance of the ASMBS that, based on the unique characteristics of the bariatric patient, the potential for major early and late complications after bariatric procedures, the specific follow-up requirements for different bariatric procedures, and the nature of treating the chronic disease of obesity, extensive travel to undergo bariatric surgery should be discouraged unless appropriate follow-up and continuity of care are arranged and transfer of medical information is adequate. However, the ASMBS recognizes the right of individuals to pursue medical care at the facility of their choice.

If you are considering traveling for your surgery, review ASMBS’s official evaluation of this practice.

Understanding Accreditation

When deciding where to have metabolic or bariatric surgery, patients have many options. One significant choice to make is whether you will have your surgery at an accredited or a non-accredited facility. In making this choice, it is critical for patients and referring physicians to understand what makes a facility “accredited”, and why that accreditation is so important.

The bariatric and metabolic surgery accreditation process is called MBSAQIP, which stands for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program. MBSAQIP was developed jointly by the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery, to foster patient safety and surgical excellence. To become accredited, a facility undergoes a rigorous process of evaluations to ensure their level of quality across safety, training, followup, and surgical volume standards.

Importance of Accreditation

A recent study showed that the mortality rates at non-accredited facilities are on average three times greater than the mortality rates at accredited facilities.

Accreditation is an important, life-saving process and we encourage patients and referring physicians to seek out those facilities that meet these rigorous standards. You can find accredited facilities through the MBSAQIP’s List of Participating Centers.