6 Ways to Pay for Weight-Loss Surgery Without Insurance

 June 11, 2018
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If you’ve been battling weight gain, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults in the U.S. have obesity. That extra weight can cause other health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Bariatric surgery can be a literal lifesaver if you have obesity, but it’s expensive, and not all insurance plans cover it. If you’re considering a procedure, here’s how to pay for bariatric surgery without insurance coverage.

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How to pay for bariatric surgery without insurance

The cost of weight-loss surgery depends on a number of factors, including your location, the hospital, the surgeon’s fees, and the type of procedure. According to Obesity Coverage, a bariatric surgery information site, the average cost of lap-band surgery is $14,500, while gastric bypass costs an average of $23,000.

The price tag might be gulp-inducing to you, and that’s understandable; it’s more than some new cars cost. However, it can be well worth the investment. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery reported that weight-loss procedures could help prevent major health issues and extend your life span.

Bariatric surgery is one of the few cases where going into debt is a good idea because of what it can do for your health and happiness. Thankfully, there are six financing options available to help make the cost more manageable.

1. Secured medical loan

According to Bariatric Surgery Source, one common source of financing is a secured medical loan. A secured medical loan is a loan you guarantee with collateral, such as your home or car.

Depending on the value of your collateral, you can borrow up to the full cost of your procedure. Because you have to secure the loan with collateral, you often can qualify for lower interest rates than you would with other types of loans. Plus, you typically have as long as 10 years to repay the loan.

Most banks and credit unions offer secured medical loans, but you also can compare rates by using an online broker like MyMedicalLoan.com.

Before applying for a loan, make sure you can afford it. If you fall behind on your payments, the lender can seize your collateral.

2. Hospital payment plan

Depending on the hospital you choose for your surgery, you might qualify for a payment plan. Some hospitals allow you to spread out the cost of surgery over the course of several months or even years, often at low interest rates. To find out if your hospital offers payment plans, contact its billing department.

3. 401(k) loan

Although raiding your retirement fund isn’t ideal, it can make sense in some situations, such as for medical procedures. If you’re considering bariatric surgery, taking out a retirement plan loan can help you achieve your goals.

When you take out a 401(k) loan, you borrow money from yourself. You take out the desired amount, and then you make monthly payments on the loan with interest. With a 401(k) loan, you typically can borrow up to $50,000 or 50% of your vested account balance, whichever is less. You might have to pay set-up and maintenance fees too.

There are some downsides to consider before taking out a 401(k) loan. While the loan is in repayment, you lose out on account growth, which can end up costing you thousands over time. If you leave your job or get laid off, you have until the due date of your federal tax return to repay the loan; otherwise, you’ll have to pay taxes or penalties on the amount you borrowed.

4. CareCredit

CareCredit is a credit card you can use only for qualified medical expenses. If you can afford a repayment term of 24 months or less, you’ll pay no interest as long as you pay off the balance in full within the promotional period.

However, it’s important to read the fine print before paying with CareCredit. If you don’t pay off the balance during the promotional period, CareCredit will charge you interest from the original purchase date, so you’ll lose out on the 0% interest offer entirely.

You can opt for a repayment period as long as 60 months, but then the interest rate is similar to other credit cards.

5. Health savings account

If you have a high-deductible health insurance policy, you likely qualify for a health savings account (HSA). An HSA works like a personal savings account, but the funds can be used only for health-related expenses, such as bariatric surgery. As of 2018, you can contribute up to $3,450 per year to an HSA if you’re single.

An HSA can be a more cost-effective tool than a personal savings account. HSA contributions are taken out of your pretax paycheck, lowering your taxable income. Plus, any interest that accrues on the account is also tax-free, and if you use the money for eligible expenses, the withdrawals are tax-free too.

Unlike flexible spending accounts, HSA savings roll over to the next year if you don’t use the money. That’s why an HSA can be a useful way to save and pay for your surgery.

6. Personal loan

If you have good credit, taking out a low-interest personal loan might be a smart option. Unlike secured medical loans, personal loans typically don’t require collateral, so you don’t have to risk your home or other valuables.

Depending on your credit history and income, you can borrow anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000 and have up to seven years to pay it off. If you qualify for a low interest rate, a personal loan can be a cost-effective tool you can use to move forward with your weight-loss procedure.

However, applying for a personal loan makes sense only if you have good credit. Otherwise, you could get hit with interest rates as high as 35.00%, adding thousands to your surgery’s cost.

For example, pretend you took out $23,000 to pay for gastric bypass surgery and qualified for a five-year loan at 5.00% interest. Over the course of your repayment period, you’d pay back $26,042. By contrast, if you took out a $23,000 loan and qualified for a five-year loan at 35.00% interest, you’d pay back a staggering $48,977. Thanks to interest charges, you’d end up paying more than double the surgery’s cost.

How Interest Rates Affect Your Personal Loan Repayment
Loan Balance Repayment Term Interest Rate Monthly Payment Total Repaid Interest Charges
$23,000 5 Years 35.00% $816 $48,977 $25,977
$23,000 5 Years 5.00% $434 $26,042 $3,042

If you decide to move forward, compare offers from personal loan lenders to ensure you get your best rates.

Preparing for your procedure

Undergoing weight-loss surgery is a huge decision. It can be an invaluable investment in yourself and your health. If you’ve been wondering how to pay for bariatric surgery without insurance, it’s important that you understand all your options so you don’t end up overwhelmed with debt.

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Student Loan Hero is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). Student Loan Hero does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero is an advertising-supported comparison service. The site features products from our partners as well as institutions which are not advertising partners. While we make an effort to include the best deals available to the general public, we make no warranty that such information represents all available products.

How Student Loan Hero Gets Paid

How Student Loan Hero Gets Paid

Student Loan Hero is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). Student Loan Hero does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero is an advertising-supported comparison service. The site features products from our partners as well as institutions which are not advertising partners. While we make an effort to include the best deals available to the general public, we make no warranty that such information represents all available products.

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