Weight-Loss Surgery Frees Most Obese Diabetics of Insulin

In the Johns Hopkins study of insured, obese, diabetic patients, researchers also found that in the third year following surgery, average annual health care costs per patient decreased by more than 70 percent.

“The cost to care for the average obese diabetic person in America is $10,000 a year, which could be cut to $1,800 with a very safe operation that eliminates more than 80 percent of the medications these individuals have depended on,” says Doctor Marty Makary, the study’s leader. “The results show that bariatric surgery has huge implications for public health and control of health care costs.”

Makary and his colleagues studied 2,235 adults from throughout the United States who had type 2 diabetes and underwent bariatric surgery during a four-year period from January 1, 2002 to December 31, 2005. The average age of those in the study was 48 years old and 74.5 percent were women. More than 23 percent of participants were insulin dependent while more than 50 percent took metformin hydrochloride to keep their diabetes in check.

Makary and his colleagues found that within one year following surgery, the number of patients dependent on insulin dropped from 524 (23.4 percent) to 101 (5.5 percent). Those on metformin dropped from 1,129 (50.5 percent) to 156 (8.4 percent). The risk of mortality from bariatric surgery is .3 percent. Makary points out that the health risks associated with diabetes and obesity are much greater.

Makary says more obese diabetic people should be offered a surgical weight-loss option, but notes that insurance coverage of the procedure is not universal, even for appropriate patients. Some private insurers may not cover it and people with Medicaid do not have equal and uniform access to the operation. “Our results suggest that insurance companies would do well to more readily cover bariatric surgery because it improves health and cuts health care costs,” he says.


MEDICA.de; Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine