How to Fund Your Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Gastric Sleeve Surgery is becoming more common place now, and it is life changing for those that go through the process and have the surgery done. We followed Michelle’s story of her Gastric Sleeve Surgery, which certainly made me aware that it wasn’t an ‘easy’ process…. In fact the recovery was quite difficult!
But how can you get gastric sleeve surgery if you can’t afford it?
Well we have investigated all the ways that you may be able to fund your surgery.
More Reading: I Got a Gastric Sleeve and Took Back My Life
First of All – How Much Does Gastric Sleeve Surgery Cost?
According to the website Melbourne Gastro Surgery, weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery costs anywhere between $15,000 – $25,000 (this cost is without taking into account Medicare or Private Health Insurance).
1. Use Your Superannuation to Fund the Surgery
Because gastric sleeve surgery is considered a life-saving and life-changing surgery, many Superannuation funds are now allowing their members to have access to their funds to pay for the surgery.
But it isn’t as easy as just ringing them up and asking for access to that money.
You need to apply to your fund under ‘Medical Compassionate Grounds’. And there are certain criteria that you need to meet. You will also need to have enough money in that Superannuation fund to pay for the surgery.
Some of the criteria include:
- Having a BMI in excess of 35
- Prove that you have been struggling with your weight consistently over the past five years.
- You have a life-threatening illness or injury
- You suffer from chronic or acute pain
- You are unable to get the surgery through the public health system
- You are unable to fund the surgery through the sale of assets, savings or other.
When you think that you won’t be able to enjoy that money at retirement age if you are
If you are thinking about going this way, make sure you check with your Financial Advisor to the long-term implications of taking this money out of your Superannuation early.
How Do I Go About It?
Getting access to your Superannuation can take up to eight weeks. You will need:
- A MyGov account
- Have your ATO account linked to your MyGov account
- Have your Bariatric Surgeon fill out your application form for funding
- An application supplied by your GP
2. Medicare Can Pay a Portion of the Cost
Medicare does not consider bariatric surgery under cosmetic surgery – which is great. So being a genuine health issue – depending on the actual surgical procedure you will undertake, Medicare will partially cover the cost.
Medicare item numbers of Gastric Bypass and Mini Gastric Bypass is 31572
Sleeve Gastrectomy is 31575
If your surgeon uses these Medicare item numbers, you will get a partial refund for the costs involved.
You will need to discuss this with your surgeon to ensure that these item numbers that are claimable by Medicare are used on your bill. However, you will still need to pay for the after surgery support and any other out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Medicare.
Now the bad news. Medicare only pays approximately $863.15 for a gastric sleeve. That does leave quite a gap payment that you will need to come up with.
3. Private Health Insurance
Private Health Insurance will cover the hospital stay for your gastric bypass surgery and depending on your level of coverage, will also pay a portion of the out-of-pocket expenses for the surgery. Ensure that you are eligible in your cover for bariatric surgery.
Unfortunately, many private health insurance providers do exclude bariatric services except for the top tier policies. Give your provider a call to see if you are eligible on your plan.
Private Health Insurance will cover the following portions of your surgery:
- Accommodation at Hospital
- Theatre Fees
- Some Doctors Fees
But it is the after-care of Bariatric Surgery where the extra costs will add up. You are looking at:
- Dietitian Costs
- Psychologist Appointments
- Follow up in-office Surgeon appointments
- After-surgery medications
Even with Private Health Insurance, the average out-of-pocket expenses for Gastric Sleeve surgery is still $6000 – $7000.
4. Medical Finance
There are an up and coming amount of finance companies that will offer you Medical Loans to have your procedure done. Medical loans aren’t just for Obesity surgery – they can be used for dental work or plastic surgery.
But they are a finance company – you will be placed on a payment plan and pay back the loan over time with interest.
Australian Medical Finance Companies that will loan for Gastric Sleeve include:
- ACA Cosmetic Surgery Finance and Medical Loans
- Now Finance
- Rate Setter
- Wisr Personal Loans
- Society One Personal Loans
5. Go Overseas for Your Procedure
Like Plastic Surgery and Dental Work, there are lots of overseas medical facilities that provide bariatric surgery for significantly lower costs than here in Australia. In fact the latest figures show that going overseas for this type of surgery can be as much as 80% cheaper than costs here in Australia.
But before you book your flight, ensure you do your research with the doctor and the hospital, speak to others who have gone down this route and ensure that you have effective after-care lined up back home. Remember that other countries have different accreditations and standards that you may be used to at home.
Organise a video call with your proposed surgeon or practise and make sure you ask questions such as:
- How many times have they performed the surgery?
- What are the success rates?
- What are their pre-surgery requirements?
- What sort of after-surgery care is available?
We have a list of websites that offer this service, however, we have just found this and encourage you to do your own research on these companies before putting your money and health on the line:
- Destination New You offer bariatric surgery in Malaysia.
- A New Life
- Rattinan Clinic in Bangkok
- Thailand Gastric Sleeve Center, Bangkok
One of the photographs on the Thailand Gastric Sleeve Center website.