Bariatric Pre-Surgical Evaluation
& Weight Management Services
One of the requirements of undergoing bariatric surgery is to have pre-surgical psychological clearance. The ultimate goal of the bariatric psychological evaluation is to ensure your safety by identifying potential barriers and risk factors to your optimal weight loss and health post-surgery. The surgeon referring you for evaluation also wants to ensure that you are informed and emotionally prepared for the surgery and the extensive changes that will occur post-surgery. Many insurance companies require this evaluation prior to authorizing coverage for weight loss surgery.
The evaluation meets standards set forth by the American Society for Bariatric Surgery and the Veteran’s Health Care Administration MOVE program, as well as general ethical standards set forth by the American Psychological Association.
Please note: All appointments are conducted via TeleHealth to maximize convenience and flexibility.
What Does the Evaluation Involve?
The evaluation consists of three parts:
The first part is a clinical interview with Dr. Harte that usually lasts 75-90 minutes. Dr. Harte will ask you a range of questions about your medical history, mental health history, substance use history, and dieting and weight management history. This initial interview is typically scheduled as two separate meetings (60 minutes for the first meeting and 20-30 minutes for the second meeting).
The second part of the evaluation entails the completion of several questionnaires and self-report assessments. This typically takes 2 hours for most people to finish. These assessments are designed to learn as much about a patient as possible (attitudes, behaviors, emotions) in a relatively brief time. The information from the interview is then combined with the information from these assessments and a report is written.
The third part of the assessment process is a follow-up meeting with Dr. Harte. This typically occurs one week after the completion of your evaluation. During the follow-up meeting, Dr. Harte will provide you with the results of the evaluation, including any clinical recommendations. This feedback session usually lasts 30 minutes. Immediately after this meeting, the report is sent to your physician and bariatric team.
Can I Fail the Psychological Evaluation?
The assessment will help to identify your particular strengths, identify the areas you will need to address to best prepare you for surgery, and identify those areas that will optimize your success for long-term weight loss. That being the case, the recommendations for psychological clearance generally fall under four categories:
Fully acceptable for surgery.
Conditionally acceptable for surgery. The patient evidenced reasonably well controlled mental illness and/or mild to moderate current behavioral problems. The patient will be recommended for surgery but ongoing psychological treatment will be required both before and after the surgery
Delayed consideration for surgery. The patient evidences poorly controlled mental illness or severe eating pathology or behavioral difficulties. Surgery will be reconsidered pending that the patient shows an improvement in these areas as a result of ongoing psychological treatment.
Not acceptable for surgery. The patient is actively psychotic, has severe substance use difficulties, has history of multiple suicide attempts, etc.
Who Will Receive the Report?
Dr. Harte will send a copy of your report to you and your surgeon. Your surgeon will also know when you have scheduled the evaluation, if you kept the appointment, and when the report is completed. Your insurance company will also receive a copy of the evaluation if this is required for authorization for surgery. You will also receive a copy of this evaluation during your follow-up appointment at our office.
How much Does the Evaluation Cost?
The cost for the evaluation is $1000. Because health insurance carriers do not cover the costs associated with the electronic scoring of psychological tests, patients are also responsible for paying a testing materials fee that is typically $120. This fee will be communicated to you in advance.
Will My Health Insurance Cover the Costs?
While each insurance company is different, most insurance companies typically pay for most of the cost and your out of pocket expense will be the amount of the testing materials fee, as well as your co-pay, deductible, or co-coinsurance, if applicable. Please note that this is not a guarantee of what your insurance carrier will pay. Even within insurance companies the payment rates may be different for different policies.
Please note that some insurance plans require an authorization from your primary care office in order for the psychological evaluation services to be covered by your health insurance. If this is the case, you will be responsible for contacting your PCP’s office to receive an authorization/referral number before the first visit of your psychological evaluation.
Can I Continue to See Dr. Harte After the Evaluation is Completed?
Yes. In some instances, additional psychotherapy services may be a requirement for recommendation for surgery. Irrespective of surgery recommendation, patients are encouraged to ask about Dr. Harte’s behavioral health services. He draws upon evidence-based cognitive and behavioral principles to help clients identify and change counterproductive thoughts and behaviors. Therapy with Dr. Harte is collaborative, solution focused, and goal oriented.