You’re very overweight, and you’ve been trying to lose weight for years. Various diets, exercise plans, and supplements have promised great results, but they never work — even if you lose a few pounds, the results don’t last. You learned about bariatric surgery, and you believe it may finally be the answer you’ve been looking for all these years. However, you’ve also learned that it can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in copays and deductibles, and many thousands if your insurance won’t pay for it, and your bank account doesn’t have that to spare.
This is a very common scenario. To many people, paying thousands of dollars up front seems impossible. However, if you don’t already have the money saved, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to give up on the idea of having bariatric surgery. There are many financing options that could help you get the procedure you desire.
You’re not the only one having trouble coming up with the money for your procedure. Your surgeon has seen this many times. For this reason, many bariatric surgeons offer financing plans for their patients. They’ll develop a plan in which you make monthly payments of an amount that seems within reach to you, until, before you know it, you’ve paid your procedure cost. Often, you’ll need to finish paying before the procedure is actually done, but not always. Talk to the bariatric surgeon(s) you’re considering to find out whether they offer this option.
Medical Credit Cards
A medical credit card is basically no different from a regular credit card, except for one thing: it only permits spending on medical expenses. This is an advantage if you have trouble controlling your spending and don’t want an extra credit card around to tempt you. You’ll just charge your procedure and pay it off via the credit card’s terms. Often, the introductory interest rate is very attractive, but keep in mind that it may rise sharply after a few months.
Other Credit Cards
You don’t have to have a medical credit card to charge a medical procedure. If your limit is high enough, you could charge it on a card you already have. Or you could get a new credit card for the purpose of charging your procedure. Choosing a regular credit card instead of a medical credit card means that you can keep the card for regular use after your procedure is paid off. The same caution about the interest rate applies; make sure you know the terms of the credit card.
Rather than charging the procedure on a credit card, you could seek a loan. You can approach your current bank for a loan, or go to a new bank; the best option will probably depend on the loan terms that are offered. Banks offer personal loans with no restrictions on how the money is used. You’ll have a certain amount of time to pay off the loan without steep penalties, and there may be a monthly payment requirement.
A medical loan is essentially the same as a personal loan, except that the money must be used for medical expenses. Banks sometimes offer different terms for medical loans than for personal loans, so you could ask about this option specifically.
Home Equity Loans
Another option, if you own your home and have a significant amount of equity in it, is to take out a home equity loan. This is essentially a personal loan in which the collateral is your home. Be aware that if you don’t pay it back, the bank may repossess your home, so make sure you don’t borrow more than you can afford.
You can also get a loan from yourself. While you can’t spend the money from your 401(k) until retirement, you are allowed to borrow from it, as long as you pay it back within a reasonable amount of time.
Family and Friends
Another option, if none of the above are working for you, is to seek loans or even gifts from family and friends. Sites such as gofundme allow you to set up a page where family and friends can gift money toward any personal goal, although the site will take a small percentage as its fee. Remember that borrowing from family and friends should be approached much like borrowing from a bank; if you borrow more than you can afford and can’t pay it back, you could lose relationships that are important to you.
Look Into Your Options!
Even if your credit isn’t great, you’d be surprised how many options you have, so talk with your bank about the possibilities for financing your bariatric surgical procedure.