Background: Socioeconomic status has been a predictor of poor outcome in many surgical diseases including morbid obesity. Potential differences in treatment and initial severity of disease have often not been well controlled in patients with bariatric surgery. This study was performed to compare the results of bariatric procedures in financially disadvantaged Medicaid patients compared to patients with Medicare and those with Commercial insurance under controlled conditions.
Methods: Prospectively collected data from 183 Medicaid, 77 Medicare and 570 Commercial/self-pay insurances were compared to determine the influence of poor economic status on outcome. All the patients received surgical care by the same surgeon at a large University-affiliated private hospital.
Results: Medicaid patients were larger (BMI 58.4 vs. 52.8 and 50.9, respectively) and had a greater incidence of serious comorbid conditions at outset. The death rate and complications were also significantly higher postoperatively in Medicaid patients. However, when the patients were matched for age and BMI, results became similar.
Conclusion: Increases in postoperative mortality and morbidity appear to be associated with advanced disease because of poor access to care. When matched for age, BMI, and severity of disease, outcomes are similar. Changes in Medicaid policies could improve access and outcome.