The Socio-economic Impact of Bariatric Surgery
This study, published in Obesity Surgery, aimed to generate real-world evidence of the socio-economic impact of bariatric surgery through evaluation of both its indirect and direct costs. Most studies focus on the direct healthcare costs only. However, this study used data collected over a period of 7 years from national registries, social transfer payments and income data, for surgically treated individuals, and compared them to that of a non-surgically treated individual, 3 years before and after surgery. The non-surgical group was defined as being eligible for bariatric surgery but not undertaking it.
The study found that there was a marginal increase in health-care costs in patients who underwent surgery, primarily because of the increased usage of in-patient services. It also found that there was a significant decrease in the costs of drugs, particularly anti-diabetic medication. Furthermore the study found that there a was notable positive effect of the surgery on social transfer payments; the costs of unemployment benefits were reduced and there were significantly higher social security payments.
Although this study was not able to identify net savings, it does not mean that bariatric surgery should be considered ineffective. The increase in health care-costs, mainly due to to complications and adverse effects of the surgery, should be weighted against the positive clinical effects that the patient will receive, namely reductions in prevalence of T2D and circulatory disease and medication to treat these, as well as considerable and sustained weight-loss which will enhance their quality of life and can also lead to a small decrease in total social transfer payments. Increased hospital care is a small price to pay for the sizeable benefits to the individual and society in the medium to long-term.