Private U.S. health insurers paid about $777 million for “bariatric” surgical procedures in 2002, up from $117 million in 1998.
Although the mean cost of the weight-control procedures increased only 13%, to $13,048 per procedure, the number of procedures covered by private insurers increased to 59,497, from 10,167, according to a team of researchers led by William Encinosa, an economist with the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
The researchers have published a paper on trends in bariatric surgery in the latest edition of Health Affairs, a health care finance and delivery journal.
The researchers based their study on data collected by private firms as well as by federal agencies.
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The researchers found that private health insurers paid for about 83% of bariatric procedures in 2002, up from 76% 5 years earlier.