Business of Health Care - Expanding Weight Loss Surgery Guidelines

Oct 4, 2019

In the face of an epidemic, getting the right treatment to those affected is essential. That’s the thinking behind the new set of guidelines recently adopted by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, which aims to make weight loss surgery more readily available to patients suffering from obesity. 


For decades, obesity has been at epidemic levels in America, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that about 40 percent of adults over 20 can be classified as being obese. 

In addition to the toll on Americans’ health, the direct and indirect costs of obesity to our nation’s healthcare system run in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually. 

The new guidelines should greatly expand the number of obese patients considered suitable for weight loss surgery primarily by lowering the body mass index threshold for surgery. 

One surgeon who helped draft the new guidelines believes millions more patients suffering from obesity could be helped by a weight loss surgery procedure. 

Weight loss surgery is not only an effective treatment for many patients who are obese, it is widely considered a safe procedure that boasts an extremely low complication rate. 

By issuing new, broader guidelines, the hope is that insurance providers will begin paying for the procedure for more of the patients they cover. 

While that may seem unlikely at first glance, weight loss surgery can help many patients who are obese find relief from other health conditions or prevent health complications in the future… bringing the health and cost benefits into alignment.