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Obes Surg. 2010 Jul;20(7):919-28. doi: 10.1007/s11695-010-0169-0.

The cost, quality of life impact, and cost-utility of bariatric surgery in a managed care population.

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  • 1Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Health System, 1500 E. Medical Center Dr. 3920 Taubman Center, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5354, USA.


Our purpose was to assess the cost, quality of life impact, and the cost-utility of bariatric surgery in a managed care population. We studied 221 patients who underwent bariatric surgery between 2001 and 2005. We analyzed medical claims data for all patients and survey data for 122 survey respondents (55% response rate). Patients were generally middle-aged, female, and white. Sixty-four percent underwent open and 33% underwent laparoscopic Roux-en-Y procedures. One year after surgery, mean body mass index fell from 51 to 31 kg/m(2) in women and from 59 to 35 kg/m(2) in men with substantial improvements in comorbidities. Postsurgical mortality and morbidity were low. Total per member per month costs increased in the 6 months before bariatric surgery, were lower in the 12 months after bariatric surgery, but increased somewhat over the next 12 months. When presurgical quality of life was assessed prospectively, average health utility scores improved by 0.14 one year after surgery. In analyses that took a lifetime time horizon, projected future costs based on age and obesity and discounted costs and health utilities at 3% per year, the cost-utility ratio for bariatric surgery versus no surgery was approximately $1,400 per quality-adjusted life-year gained. In sensitivity analyses, bariatric surgery was more cost-effective in women, non-whites, more obese patients, and when performed laparoscopically. Although not cost-saving, bariatric surgery represents a very good value for money. Its long-term cost effectiveness appears to depend on the natural history and cost of late postsurgical complications and the natural history and cost of untreated morbid obesity.

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