The Inequity of Bariatric Surgery: Publicly Insured Patients Undergo Lower Rates of Bariatric Surgery with Worse Outcomes
Bariatric surgery has been shown to be the most effective method of achieving weight loss and alleviating obesity-related comorbidities. Yet, it is not being used equitably. This study seeks to identify if there is a disparity in payer status of patients undergoing bariatric surgery and what factors are associated with this disparity.
We performed a case-control analysis of National Inpatient Sample. We identified adults with body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25 kg/m2 who underwent bariatric surgery and matched them with overweight inpatient adult controls not undergoing surgery. The sample was analyzed using multivariate logistic regression.
We identified 132,342 cases, in which the majority had private insurance (72.8%). Bariatric patients were significantly more likely to be privately insured than any other payer status; Medicare- and Medicaid-covered patients accounted for a low percentage of cases (Medicare 5.1%, OR 0.33, 95% CI 0.29–0.37, p < 0.001; Medicaid 8.7%, OR 0.21, 95% CI 0.18–0.25, p < 0.001). Medicare (OR 1.54, 95% CI 1.33–1.78, p < 0.001) and Medicaid (OR 1.31, 95% CI 1.08–1.60, p = 0.007) patients undergoing bariatric surgery had an increased risk of complications compared to privately insured patients.
Publicly insured patients are significantly less likely to undergo bariatric surgery. As a group, these patients experience higher rates of obesity and related complications and thus are most in need of bariatric surgery.