Does Bariatric Surgery Cut the Cost of Diabetes and Blood Pressure Medication?
Two of the most common comorbidities, or obesity related diseases, that we come across in our patients are type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Most of our patients will have been managing these conditions using drug therapy for years before considering surgery as a more permanent, curative solution. When we discuss the benefits of bariatric surgery, we often point out the fact that money can be saved in the form of reduced or eliminated drug therapy. And while every patient will experience different improvement and resolution rates, we have some recent research, presented at the ASMBS National Clinical Symposium on Obesity Prevention Treatment and Research in June 2019, that helps quantify the benefit.
Researchers at Rush Medical College in Chicago examined the records of 210 bariatric surgery patients, noting that between diabetes and blood pressure drug therapy, they were spending just under $300 a month on medication. On average, six months after bariatric surgery, the cost of their monthly drug therapy had dropped to between $117 and $134. This represents a reduction of two-thirds of the cost of medication. While the reduction in costs of medications is only one small part of the benefits of bariatric surgery, it helps make the financial case for bariatric surgery (often an impediment to patient access) on top of the significant lifestyle and health benefits.
It is important to note that these figures are averages, and as every bariatric patient finds out, their success is largely dependent on the ability and willingness to follow the postoperative bariatric lifestyle. Indeed, a majority of patients are able to send their diabetes into remission and eliminate high blood pressure entirely. For those patients, there is a potential to save the entire $300 a month, just for those two drugs. Of course, bariatric patients also often suffer from high cholesterol, acid reflux, sleep apnea and other conditions that require devices or drugs (with associated costs) as well.
Here at the bariatric program at NYU Winthrop Surgical Associates, we believe that bariatric surgery is the clear, long-term solution to the excess weight and associated diseases in patients suffering from obesity. The benefits of bariatric surgery are many, including improved lifestyle, improved health, longer life expectancy, greater work and social opportunities, and even long-term reduced cost. Knowing, however, that so much of this success is directly linked to patient behavior, we place a particular emphasis on post-operative lifestyle and patient aftercare. Between our dedicated surgeons and staff, in-house nutritionist, patient advocates and monthly support groups, we strive to make every patient feel like part of the family and motivate them to achieve their full potential.
It is never too late to consider bariatric surgery, and we encourage anyone looking for a more permanent solution to attend one of our in-person or online seminars to learn more. These seminars allow our prospective patients to understand the benefits of bariatric surgery, but also the risks and how we go about mitigating them using innovative surgical techniques, advanced devices, and the best in surgical care.