Online loans are a new way to pay for gastric bypass
Those seeking gastric bypass, often not covered by insurance, turn to Web



By LESLIE CASIMIR
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

A few weeks ago at work, as Cassandra Nichols tried to climb a flight of stairs, she had trouble breathing. Obese for years, she now weighs almost 300 pounds and fears for her future.

"I don't want to die," said Nichols, a 24-year-old showing signs of Type 2 diabetes. "I need to lose this weight."

A candidate for gastric bypass surgery, Nichols, a caseworker for the state's Child Protective Services, can't get Texas' health insurance plan to cover the surgery. Her insurance considers the procedure an elective, she said.

Now desperate, Nichols has turned to an unlikely place to help pay for the surgery: an Internet loan.

And she's not alone. It's a new option growing in popularity for many morbidly obese adults some of whom are getting into debt by self-financing their bariatric surgeries, which cost roughly $25,000.

Nichols has applied on numerous Web sites carecredit.com and SurgeryLoans.com for high-interest surgery loans. But with an annual salary of about $30,000, she's having a hard time getting approved for the total amount.

"It's a sacrifice that I have to make," said Nichols, who lives in northwest Houston. "No one else can help me."
I'm not sure how I feel about this. A lot of bypass patients remain overweight or even obese after the honeymoon period is over.

Houston Chron