PHC4 Research Brief - Obesity-Related Surgery in Pennsylvania - News Release


Contact: Joe Martin, Communications Director
717-232-6787 or


Harrisburg, PA - August 12, 2004 - The number of Pennsylvanian's receiving gastric bypass surgery for the treatment of severe obesity has increased dramatically since 1999, according to figures released today by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4). In 2003, 6,791 gastric bypass surgeries were performed in the state, up ten-fold from 1999, when only 674 were performed. Between 1999 and 2003, the number of surgeons performing gastric bypass surgery increased from 31 to 84 surgeons, and the number of facilities increased from 26 to 49.

Gastric bypass surgeries accounted for more than 23,000 hospital days and over $240 million in hospital charges in 2003, with an average charge of $35,643 for the procedure. During the five-year period between 1999 and 2003, hospital charges for gastric bypass surgery totaled $585 million; 85.5% of these surgeries were billed to commercial insurers.

"Complications of gastric bypass surgery can be serious and can lead to additional hospital stays," commented Marc P. Volavka, Executive Director of PHC4. "In the two years following the 2,684 gastric bypass surgeries that were performed in the year 2001, there were 1,050 readmissions for conditions that may have been related to the initial procedure. The hospital charges for these readmissions totaled more than $22.6 million."

Obesity-Related Surgery in Pennsylvania is the second of PHC4's new Research Briefs, which are periodic web-based publications that examine health care topics relevant to public policy and public interest. The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information that can be used to improve the quality and restrain the cost of health care in Pennsylvania. Copies of this brief are free and are available on the Council's website at or by calling PHC4 at (717) 232-6787.