Nationally the number of procedures is expected to exceed 109,000 this year, as more insurance companies and state Medicaid programs cover the procedure as a way to reduce disease complications and costs that are otherwise likely to follow a morbidly obese individual.
Last year, Parker says, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services lowered the criteria for bariatric surgery coverage. Instead of a BMI of 35 and one co-morbidity, one need only have a BMI of 30 and one co-morbidity now.
The California report was not mandated by the state legislature, as many other OSHPD reports are. But Parker says that the agency felt "it made a lot of sense for us, because of the growing obesity epidemic in the nation, to look at the different risk profiles for these different procedures and see which ones were higher.
"We expect the number of these surgeries to increase," he said.
A routine bariatric surgery is estimated to cost about $25,000 per patient, although billed charges can be as high as $50,000. Complication-free lengths of stay vary between one day, for simpler Lap procedures, two three days, Parker said.