Outcomes at Bariatric Surgery Centers of Excellence and Non-Designated Centers: A Retrospective Cohort Study in a TRICARE Population

Am Surg. 2018 Mar 1;84(3):410-415.


In 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reversed their coverage policy that limited bariatric operations to Centers of Excellence (COE). Data from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services may not be generalizable to younger, healthier populations; additional data are needed to inform coverage policies for other plans. This retrospective cohort study used the 2010 to 2011 administrative claims data from the TRICARE military healthcare program to evaluate readmission rates, readmission length of stay, and postoperative healthcare costs among patients who had bariatric surgery at a COE versus non-designated centers. Outcomes were reported at 30, 60, and 90 days, and compared using logistic and linear regression models while controlling for age, gender, and military status. A total of 3027 patients underwent bariatric operations (mean age 44.16, 84.11% female). At 30 days, there were no significant differences between patients in COEs (n = 2413) and non-designated centers (n = 614), in readmission rates (4.77%, 4.40%, P = 0.70), mean length of stay (5.5 days, 6.7 days, P = 0.41), or mean postoperative healthcare costs ($754, $962, P = 0.398). There were no significant differences in any outcomes at 60 or 90 days. Combined with concerns related to COE patient access barriers, these findings strengthen the evidence that reject the requirement for bariatric surgeries to be performed at COEs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bariatric Surgery / economics
  • Bariatric Surgery / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Morbid / economics
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery*
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data
  • Postoperative Care / economics
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States