The Impact of Bariatric Surgery on the Veterans Administration Healthcare System: A Cost Analysis
Background: The economic burden of caring for veterans with clinically severe obesity and its comorbidities is straining the Veterans Administration (VA) healthcare system. The authors determined the cost of Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGBP) in the VA's single-payor healthcare system. Methods:The records of all 25 patients who underwent RYGBP from May 1999 to October 2001 were reviewed. All obesity-related health-care costs including hospitalizations as well as outpatient visits, medications and home health devices were calculated for 12 months before and after the RYGBP. Results: Age was 52±2 yr and preoperative BMI was 52±2 kg/m2; ASA score was III (21 patients) and II (4 patients). Mean follow-up was 18 months.Total cost of care for these patients preoperatively was $10,778±2,460/patient (outpatient visits=$5,476±682, hospital admissions=$12,221±6,062, and home health devices=$1,383±349). Postoperative length of stay was 8±0.5 days. Cost of the gastric bypass was $8,976±497/pt (OR fixed cost=$1,900/patient + ICU and ward=$7,076±497/patient). For the first postoperative year, 6 patients had 12 admissions, but routine outpatient visits were significantly reduced from 55±6 to 18±2 postoperatively (P<0.001).The cost of all care excluding peri-operative charges for 1 year after gastric bypass was $2,840±622/patient (P=0.005 vs preop). Conclusions: Operative treatment of clinically severe obesity reduces obesity-related expenditures and utilization of healthcare resources. The cost of undertaking RYGBP at the VA is offset by reduction of health-care costs within the first year after surgery. These data support allocation of resources to support existing bariatric surgery programs throughout the VA system.
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