Cost of Gastric Sleeve Surgery: Insurance, Self-Pay, Financing

Being overweight is an obstacle to living well. Often, though, diet and exercise don’t provide an adequate or timely solution to a lifelong struggle. Bariatric procedures, like gastric sleeve surgery, can provide much needed help with losing weight. If this resounds with you, you might find that financial obstacles can be a problem you encounter. As you strive to fund your life-saving and life-changing gastric sleeve surgery, weigh the cost and differences when paying cash vs financing. 

Whether you pay cash or finance your procedure will largely depend on how much it costs, and your gastric sleeve surgery’s cost will largely depend on a few common factors: insurance coverage, location, and financing needs and details.

The Availability and Effectiveness of Your Insurance Coverage

It’s fairly obvious that your expenses related to gastric sleeve surgery will be far less if the procedure is covered by insurance. When undergone within the US, the procedure costs around $19,000. When insurance covers 80% of the cost, as is typical, your out-of-pocket will be about $3,500.

As you read your policy to determine if your gastric sleeve surgery will be covered, look for keywords like “bariatric surgery.” These terms usually indicate that all weight-loss surgeries and procedures will be covered, including the gastric sleeve. If you don’t have coverage for the procedure itself, you will probably still have coverage for costs that are incidental to the gastric sleeve like labs and screenings. 

Sometimes, your chosen doctor might not accept your insurance even if you have coverage, or the facility where the doctor has privileges doesn’t accept your form of coverage. You simply must verify that all coverage is accepted and home in on the details prior to your first visit about the surgery.

The Location of Your Gastric Sleeve Procedure

For those with insurance coverage, you can stay close to home and enjoy an affordable gastric sleeve surgery. However, if you’re self-pay, meaning that you have no insurance coverage, you can easily save significant amounts of money by choosing the locations wisely. 

In addition to considering which states are cheaper, remember that traveling to Mexico for bariatric surgery is the cheapest of all options. You will find that facilities in Mexico are clean and safe and that the surgeons are well-trained and experienced. Almost all of the travel packages that you can purchase include the cost to have a companion accompany you as well. 

Recognizing that staying close to home, limiting the amount of time spent traveling, and remaining near your network of support are all important reasons to not travel for this procedure, we also know that when your health and happiness are on the table, a bit of travel is worth leaving your comfort zone. 

The Costs of Financing

Most patients will need to finance at least a portion of the costs of their gastric sleeve surgeries. For those with good credit or multiple assets, attaining a good interest rate and sufficient credit limits will be a breeze, but for those with credit score deficiencies or a limited credit history, financing could be a costly endeavor. 

Financing options are many. You may choose among the following financing methods among others:

  • Payment plans with the surgeon and facility
  • Care credit for medical procedures
  • Credit cards
  • Personal loans
  • Loans secured against home equity
  • Loans secured via 401k or other retirement account
  • Loan against life insurance policy

How to Count the Costs of Financing

Counting the costs of financing should include a close consideration of the terms of any plan agreed to. After establishing as many discounts as possible by way of insurance, location, or methods, the ultimate financing plan will include a term for repayment, an adjustable or fixed APR, and the principle balance amount.


The amount of time allowed for repayment of what’s borrowed is the term. The longer the term, the more your financing will cost. For example, a loan for gastric sleeve surgery with a 3-year term will accrue less interest than one that lasts longer. However, the monthly repayment installments are generally less expensive with a longer term. More payments mean the principle is stretched into more installments, which translates to a lower payment even though the total cost is higher.


The APR of your gastric sleeve financing is how much borrowing what you need for your procedure will cost. The Annual Percentage Rate is the actual percentage of interest accrued annually on the principle borrowed. The APR may be fixed or adjusted, depending on the financial product to which you agree. This item is the single most important element to notice when your choosing among various financing options for your gastric sleeve surgery. 


The principle amount is what you have to borrow in order to fund the actual procedure. You’ll repay this amount plus the agreed upon interest.

Benefits of Paying Cash or Self-Pay

Paying cash for your gastric sleeve surgery does come with benefits. You will pay for your procedure without the heavy costs of interest, and you will probably be able to secure discounts for being a cash patient depending on the facility and the surgeon. 

If you don’t have the cash outright, consider planning. Pay what you would if you financed the procedure yourself into a savings account, hold fundraisers, or consider crowd-funding. Instead of interest rates, you pay with patience, waiting to have your surgery until you have the funds on-hand.

The cost of gastric sleeve surgery when comparing cash vs financing largely comes down to paying with time or paying interest. Whether you are fortunate enough to have an incredible insurance plan or need to pay out-of-pocket, make sure that money doesn’t stand in the way of your procedure. Find the most affordable but still safe and effective doctor and facility, finance what you can, and raise the rest of the funds. You simply must take your health and your future into your own hands and reclaim your life by returning to a healthy weight and frame of mind.