Use and Costs of Bariatric Surgery and Prescription Weight-Loss Medications
The extent of use of bariatric surgery and weight-loss medications is unknown. Using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, the paper estimates that the number of bariatric surgeries grew 400 percent between 1998 and 2002; such surgeries were performed on 0.6 percent of the 11.5 million adults clinically eligible in 2002. Hospital costs for bariatric surgery grew sixfold to $948 million in 2002. The inpatient death rate declined 64 percent. Among employers that covered weight-loss drugs in 2002, less than 2.4 percent of adults clinically eligible for these drugs used them, with average annual spending of $304 per user.