Why patients seek bariatric surgery: does insurance coverage matter?

Phillip J. Brantley, Behavioral Medicine Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University System, 6400 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA, 70808-4124, USA, phil.brantley@pbrc.edu.
Krystal Waldo
Molly R. Matthews-Ewald
Ricky Brock
Catherine M. Champagne
Tim Church
Melissa N. Harris
Tipton McKnight


Despite increasing prevalence of bariatric surgery, little is known about why patients seek out this treatment option. Heads Up is an observational study sponsored by a large benefits management group that examines surgical and nonsurgical approaches to weight management in obese adults. This study examined patients' reasons for choosing surgery. The sample included 360 adult obese patients seeking bariatric surgery who were invited to volunteer for a surgical or a medical weight loss program by their insurer. Participants rank ordered their top three reasons as a deciding factor for choosing to consider surgery. The top three reasons were concerns regarding health (52%), current obesity-related medical conditions (28%), and improved physical fitness (5%). Overall, 13% endorsed insurance coverage as one of their top three choices. When insurance coverage is assured, health and functionality issues were the major reasons reported for obese adults choosing to undergo bariatric surgery.