Weighing in on Bariatric Surgery: Effectiveness Among Medicaid Beneficiaries—Limited Evidence and Future Research Needs

Erin Takemoto, Sarah B. Andrea, Bruce M. Wolfe, Corey L. Nagel, Janne Boone-Heinonen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Introduction: In the general population, bariatric surgery is well documented as the most effective obesity treatment for sustained weight loss and remission of comorbidities. Characterization of the patient populations most likely to benefit from surgical intervention is needed, but the heterogeneity of treatment effects across payer groups has not been reviewed. Methods: A systematic review of published studies focusing on bariatric surgery outcomes among Medicaid beneficiaries was conducted. By using PubMed and Scopus, this study searched for studies that quantitatively compared clinical or social bariatric surgery outcomes for United States adult Medicaid recipients and commercially insured patients. Results: Of the 568 titles reviewed, 21 met inclusion criteria. Weight loss and the remission of comorbidities at 1 or 2 years postoperatively were similar between groups despite differences in baseline health status. Short-term health care utilization and mortality outcomes were worse in Medicaid recipients; for instance, Medicaid patients had an average length of stay that was 2 days longer and experienced three more deaths in the first postoperative year. Conclusions: The critical research gaps in the evidence base needed to improve treatment guidelines for Medicaid patients undergoing bariatric surgery include an understanding of the causes of the baseline health differences and how these differences contribute to postoperative outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-473
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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