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Gallbladder Surgery Cost
Without Health Insurance: $10,000-$20,000
The gallbladder is an organ that stores bile, which helps to digest fats. Surgery to remove the gallbladder, also known as cholecystectomy, typically is done for gallstones or gallbladder function problems that cause symptoms such as pain, nausea or infection. Risks of gallbladder surgery can include reaction to anesthesia, bleeding, infection, injury to other organs, and pancreatitis.
- Gallbladder surgery typically is covered by health insurance. For patients covered by health insurance, out-of-pocket costs typically consist of a specialist copay, possibly a hospital copay of $100 or more, and coinsurance of 10% to 50% for the procedure, which could reach the yearly out-of-pocket maximum.
- For patients without health insurance, gallbladder surgery typically costs $10,000-$20,000. For example, at Wright Medical Center[1 ] in Iowa, open gallbladder surgery costs about $9,700, including a doctor fee of about $2,500, while laparoscopic gallbladder surgery costs about $12,600, including a doctor fee of about $3,200. At Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center[2 ] in Nebraska, laparoscopic gallbladder removal, not including doctor fees, typically costs about $8,500-$14,000, or about $10,500-$16,400 if a special X-ray called a cholangiogram is done during surgery. Doctor fees can add several thousand dollars to the final bill. At Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center[3 ]. in New Hampshire, gallbladder surgery costs about $15,700, including the doctor fee, after an uninsured discount. According to HealthCareBlueBook.com[4 ]. a typical fee is about $16,500 including hospital charges and doctor fees.
What should be included:
- The patient is placed under general anesthesia. The surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen — or, in laparoscopic surgery, several tiny incisions — then severs the bile duct and some blood vessels, and removes the gallbladder. In some cases, an X-ray called a cholangiogram will be done to look for blockage or gallstones in the bile duct. Surgery takes about an hour and a half.
- Many patients go home from the hospital on the day of surgery, but some require a short stay, usually one day. A few days off work usually are required, and the patient can resume normal activities in four to six weeks.
- The National Institutes of Health offers overviews of open[5 ] and the more common laparoscopic[6 ] gallbladder-removal procedures.
Related Costs: Anesthesia. Health Insurance
- Some patients develop diarrhea[7 ] after gallbladder surgery, and the doctor might recommend an anti-diarrhea medication, which typically costs less than $20 per bottle.
- Many doctors and hospitals give discounts of up to 30% or more to uninsured/cash-paying patients. For example, Washington Hospital Healthcare System[8 ] in California offers a 35% discount.
Shopping for gallbladder surgery:
- A gastroenterologist typically will diagnose gallbladder problems and recommend surgery. A family doctor can provide a referral, or The American College of Gastroenterology offers a physician locator[9 ]. Make sure the gastroenterologist is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine[10 ] .
- For surgery, the gastroenterologist typically will refer the patient to a general surgeon. It is important to make sure the surgeon is board-certified by the American Board of Surgery[11 ] and has experience performing gallbladder surgery.
- Of course, it is crucial to consult with a doctor about the decision to have surgery. Also, WebMD offers a decision-making tool[12 ] on whether to have gallbladder-removal surgery for gallstone attacks.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
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