HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of healthcare market intelligence, reports that San Antonio, Texas, bariatric surgeons plan on opening a 20-bed bariatric hospital, despite a decrease in approvals for the surgery by insurers. According to the new report titled San Antonio Market Overview, having been named the second fattest city in the country by the February 2007 issue of Men's Fitness, local weight-loss surgeons believe they are only meeting a fraction of the need.
"Bariatric surgery is big business in San Antonio -- the local business journal estimates that roughly 1,200 weight-loss operations, or about 100 per month, were performed in the city last year," states Renee Burnham, HealthLeaders-InterStudy market analyst and author of the report. "While local acute-care hospitals offer the procedure, several of the city's approximately 20 bariatric surgeons feel that going out on their own will benefit the market."
The Foundation Bariatric Hospital of San Antonio is expected to open in May 2007 in the South Texas Medical Center. The hospital, which will have 20 beds and specialize in weight-loss surgery, is being developed by the six- physician New Dimensions Weight Loss Surgery and Oklahoma City-based Foundation Surgery Affiliates. The hospital is part of a larger $20 million project to create a multidisciplinary program, named WeightWise, which includes outpatient clinics offering a range of services, including nutritional counseling, gyms and sleep labs.
Local insurers have shied away from approving bariatric procedures in recent years, but local physicians are pitching their services to large self- funded insurers, such as AT&T and USAA, and self-paying patients. By tracking information from health risk assessments and claims data, USAA found that claims costs for those identified as obese were higher than the average claims experience.
Other healthcare news from the San Antonio market:
* Locally based H-E-B Pharmacy introduced a low-cost generic drug plan where customers can receive 500 generic drugs for $5 at all H-E-B Pharmacies plus savings on all other brand and generic drugs. The drugs being offered at the $5 price are those that address the most prevalent disease states in Texas, including diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
* Baptist Health System is working out the details of a land purchase on the city's southeast side for a 175-bed, five-story replacement hospital, hoping to capitalize on population growth resulting from the new Toyota Tundra manufacturing plant. The plant employs more than 4,000 workers, including on- site suppliers.
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