Bariatric surgery is often the final step when other weight-loss plans have failed to produce the necessary results to ensure our ongoing good health. Such surgery is a significant undertaking. As such, the decision to proceed is not one that we should take lightly. Bariatric procedures are often costly, but there are many options that can help us reach our weight loss and health goals. Finding the right financing for our surgery can be complicated. Below, we explain some of the options available to set you on the right path.
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What Is a Bariatric Loan?
A bariatric loan is a medical loan explicitly designed to finance weight loss procedures. It can be used to top-up the amount our insurer will pay, or it can cover the entire cost. Typically, a lender will fund most bariatric surgery, from small procedures to extensive surgery.
Bariatric Loan Process
When we are looking for a bariatric loan, there can be an overwhelming number of options to consider. Before we apply for financing, we should discuss the surgery and costs in detail with our medical provider. Depending on the complexity, the price can vary significantly. According to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the average expenditure is between $10,000 and $25,000. The process of getting a loan will depend on different factors. These can include the price of the surgery, whether we have insurance cover for part of the procedure, our credit history, our preferred type of loan, and our preferred lender. It is worth checking out the lenders’ processes, including the length of time from application to a decision before moving forward.
How to Apply
The application method will depend on how we are planning to finance the surgery. Before beginning the application process, we should understand exactly which procedure will be carried out, the general surgical cost, and any other associated medical expenses. In addition, we should be prepared to provide the lender with all necessary documentation to support the application. This may include pay-slips, proof of ownership for collateral, and proof of ability to repay the loan.
How Weight Loss Surgery Financing Works
If we apply for weight loss surgery financing, we should understand what it will cover. Many lenders insist that the money is only used for the explicit purpose of the procedure specified in the loan application. If future plastic surgery correction is important, make sure it is covered in the loan agreement.
Weight Loss Surgery Financing Options
Once we know the amount our weight loss surgery will cost, we can investigate the best way to finance it. Depending on our financial circumstances, credit scores, savings, and health plans, there are several options that we should consider before making a decision.
Secured Medical Loan
If we have something of value, then a secured loan can often be the cheapest option. It is guaranteed against collateral, typically a house, car, or boat. It provides security to the lender if the payments are defaulted and loan not repaid. These loans usually have some of the lowest rates of interest, making them the most affordable. The interest paid can also be tax-deductible. On the downside, if the payments aren’t made, then the collateral may be at risk.
Hospital Payment Plan
As the cost of bariatric surgery can be high, many practitioners and hospitals offer a payment plan. This allows the procedure to go ahead and be paid off in monthly installments. Such a payment plan is, effectively, an in-house weight loss loan.This funding is usually offered at a lower interest rate than other lending options. The benefit of a hospital payment plan is that the procedure and costs are known in detail. In some cases, the hospital or practitioner may also be able to lower prices to make the surgery more affordable.
If we have a 401K plan, we can usually borrow up to $50,000 or half of our balance as a loan. The advantage is that this form of financing is not subject to credit checks, so we need not worry if our credit score is less than perfect. The interest rates are generally low, and payments simple. The loan is paid back monthly straight from our paychecks. The typical term is over five years, so it is worth considering if we plan to stay in our current employment for that period. In some cases, if we leave our employer before the loan is paid off, then the remaining sum can become payable in full. If you are considering this option, it is worth checking the details with your employer or with your accountant.
Health Savings Account
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged savings account, specifically designed to provide funds for medical expenses when we need them. If we have an HSA, this can be a great way to pay cash for a weight loss procedure. Bariatric surgery is a qualifying medical expense under this scheme, and so withdrawing funds for this purpose should be straightforward.
If we have a good credit score, we can consider an unsecured personal loan. There are several lending options for this, such as banks, credit unions, online providers, and peer to peer lenders. As this loan is given without security, we can expect to pay higher interest rates on the funding than a secured loan. The length of time the loan is taken out over will also affect the interest rate, as will our credit score and income. While it is possible to obtain a personal loan with bad credit, the interest rates are usually much higher than other options. Some lenders specialize in this type of loan, however, so it is worth investigating the available options.
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Main Types of Weight Loss and Bariatric Surgeries
There are three main types of bariatric surgery to consider. Some are simple and reversible. Some require more major surgery, and some are permanent. We should be sure we understand the short-term and long-term implications of our recommended procedure before moving forward.
Restrictive - Gastric Sleeve, Gastric Balloon, Gastric Lap-band
This type of bariatric surgery restricts the amount of food we can eat by limiting the size of our stomach. These procedures are the least complicated in surgical terms, and the associated costs are, therefore, at the lower end of the financing and required loan scale.
Malabsorptive - Gastric Bypass, Duodenal Switch
Malabsorptive weight loss surgery procedures limit the absorption of the food we eat. This is achieved by bypassing part of our small intestine as in a gastric bypass. A duodenal switch combines restrictive and malabsorptive processes by removing part of the stomach to limit our food intake and bypassing the duodenum (part of the intestinal tract). Malabsorptive procedures are a more complicated surgery than restrictive techniques. As such, they carry higher costs and will require a higher level of funding. We should also note that these surgical processes are not reversible.
Vagal Nerve Blocking
Vagal nerve blocking therapy can produce weight loss results by interfering with our feelings of hunger. By stopping the hunger sensations, we eat less. This procedure does not physically restrict our consumption, nor our ability to absorb nutrients from our food. This procedure is minimally invasive and reversible. Vagal nerve blocking is considered a cost-effective way in which to gain the benefits of weight-loss procedures.
Benefits and Risks
Bariatric procedures carry both benefits and risks. Before we undertake such potentially life-changing weight loss surgery, it is important to research our options and to discuss the benefits and risks with our medical practitioner. Some of the benefits of bariatric surgery include improved health and less weight-related problems. These include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and sleep apnea. With the help of this surgery, we can improve our quality of life in the long term. Depending on the procedure we have, there are risks associated with weight loss surgery. These can include gallbladder issues, diarrhea, and problems absorbing enough nutrients to remain healthy.
Bariatric Financing With Bad Credit
Finding medical financing without a good credit score can be a little more complicated, but it is not impossible. Typically loans offered will cost more in terms of fees and interest rates. If we find ourselves in this position, it is worth approaching different lenders to find out their financing terms for a bariatric procedure. There are some lenders that specialize in lending to people with bad credit scores. Alternatively, we can consider finding a cosigner for a loan, if possible. This person will provide a guarantee to the lender in case of a default on the loan.
Bariatric surgery can not only be life-changing; it can be life-enhancing too. Deciding to undergo such a procedure is not made quickly or easily, especially if we are considering a non-reversible option. When we decide to do it, then we need the financial means to follow through. A bariatric loan allows us to move forward with peace of mind, leaving us to concentrate on making the changes in our lives needed to achieve the full benefits of the procedures. There are many options for bariatric financing out there. We should investigate the options, discuss the alternatives with our medical providers, and make the right decision for our health and financial future.