Comparison of Ambulatory Health Care Costs and Use Associated With Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass vs Sleeve Gastrectomy.
Importance: Studies comparing contemporary bariatric surgical types could facilitate procedure selection for patients interested in reducing their frequency of health care visits and reliance on prescription drugs. Objective: To compare the association of sleeve gastrectomy (SG) and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) with ambulatory health care costs and use for as long as 4 years after surgery. Design, Setting, and Participants: This comparative effectiveness study, which included patients undergoing bariatric surgery who were aged 18 to 64 years with at least 24 months of enrollment data before surgery and 12 months of enrollment data after surgery, used a retrospective interrupted time series with a comparison group. Data represent insurance claims dated January 2006 to June 2017, with analyses completed in September 2021. Data were collected from US commercial and Medicare Advantage claims database. Cohorts were matched on characteristics including baseline body mass index category, diabetes status, baseline ambulatory care costs, region of the United States, and year of surgery. Exposures: SG or RYGB, based on procedure codes. Main Outcomes and Measures: Annual ambulatory health care costs, and subtypes of cost and use including prescriptions, office visits, laboratory encounters, and radiology. Results: Matched cohorts included 3049 patients who underwent SG and 3251 patients who underwent RYGB, with a mean (SD) age of 45.2 (10.0) years; 4820 (77%) were women. Full follow-up was 37% for SG (514 patients) and 38% for RYGB (643 patients) among those eligible for 4-year follow-up. There were no significant differences between SG and RYGB in total ambulatory costs, office visit costs, or radiology costs in all follow-up years. Patients who underwent SG had significantly higher prescription costs than those who underwent RYGB bypass in year 4 ($852.8 per patient per year; 95% CI: $395.6-$1310.0 per patient per year) with more cardiometabolic medication fills in each year (eg, year 4: 42.5%; 95% CI, 13.7%-71.2%). In contrast, early after surgery, patients who underwent SG had relatively fewer specialist visits (eg, year 1: -7.2%; 95% CI, -14.3% to -0.2%) and lower laboratory costs (eg, year 1: -$118.9 per patient per year; 95% CI, -$220.2 to -$17.5 per patient per year). Conclusions and Relevance: Despite clinical studies showing greater weight loss and comorbidity improvement with RYGB vs SG, this study found no difference in total ambulatory costs for as long as 4 years after SG and RYGB. These findings may reflect the trade-off between greater improvements in cardiometabolic health and additional surgery-related care among patients undergoing RYGB. Studies with longer follow-up time could determine whether greater sustained weight loss from RYGB eventually results in lower costs compared with SG.
Lewis, KH; Argetsinger, S; Arterburn, DE; Clemenzi, J; Zhang, F; Kamusiime, R; Fernandez, A; Ross-Degnan, D; Wharam, JF
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