A Patient Guide to the Gastric Balloon
The gastric balloon, or endoscopic intragastric balloon, is one of the newest treatment options in the fight against obesity. It is a non-invasive bariatric procedure that has been designed specifically as a bridge procedure between losing weight through diet and exercise alone, and losing weight through invasive bariatric surgical procedures like the gastric sleeve.
Insurance, Cost and Finance of the Gastric Balloon Around the World
Looking firstly at insurance, you will see that the balloon has been medically approved in the majority of countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the United States. However, the United Kingdom is one of the only countries so far that covers the balloon under their insurance as standard.
Most United States insurance policies, including Medicare, actually still exclude the intragastric balloon. This is because they feel it has not had FDA approval for long enough. According to Medicare, for instance, there is insufficient data available on the long term efficacy and safety of the balloon in terms of treating obesity. They will review their decision once more data is available.
In Australia, part of the gastric balloon procedure (like the gastroscopy) may be covered. However, you will usually be responsible for at least part of the procedure. This is arranged through the Health Fund.
In Canada, the procedure is not covered under the national health insurance program.
Finally, in the United Kingdom, the procedure may be covered by the NHS (National Health Service). However, the patient must demonstrate that they are seeing a significant impact on their overall quality of life as a direct result of their weight. Each case is reviewed individually, and it may take several months to receive a decision.
The Price of Balloons for Each Country
While the Reshape balloon surgery cost will vary from one clinic to the next, the following figures are the averages and ranges for each country, calculated in US Dollars.
• In the United States, the average is $8,150. It can range from $6,000 to $10,000.
• In Australia, the average cost is $4,178. It can range from $2,976 to $5,379.
• In Canada, the average cost is $8,250. It can range from $8,000 to $8,500.
• In Mexico, the average cost is $5,800.
• In the United Kingdom, the average cost is $6,195. It can range from $5,800 to $6,590.
The majority of practices do offer easy financing options, particularly in countries where there is little to no insurance coverage. It is important to ask the clinic about this and find out what the options are. In the United Kingdom, some people have started to take out finance so that they can have the procedure straight away, rather than having to wait for an NHS decision. Those who choose to do this are told that they must be very careful, as there is no guarantee that the NHS will agree to finance their procedure, nor that they will then transfer the money to the clinic if payments have already started. Additionally, no interest payments will be covered by the NHS.