Have you been experiencing nausea, jaundice, and sharp pain in your stomach area?
These are the common symptoms of gallstones (hardened fluid deposits that form inside your gallbladder).
If your doctor confirms gallstones as the culprit, then they’ll likely recommend gallbladder removal surgery.
Laparoscopic or keyhole cholecystectomy and open cholecystectomy are the two methods used to remove the gallbladder surgically.
The former—which is the most common procedure—involves using a laparoscope to remove the gallbladder through a small cut. The latter involves making a larger incision in your stomach area and carrying out open surgery to remove the gallbladder.
Most insurers cover both types of surgery, but only if your condition requires the procedure. You’ll need to prove that you have gallbladder pancreatitis or gallstones.
For many Americans, the decision to make that trip to the doctor depends primarily on whether they can afford the procedure (and less on whether they need the medical procedure).
The cost of a medical procedure can be a concern if:
- Your insurance doesn’t cover the full cost of healthcare services
- You don’t have health insurance
We understand these concerns and wouldn’t like you to miss out on such a necessary surgical procedure as gallbladder removal.
For this reason, we’ll show you how hospitals calculate your bill and give you estimates for the cost of the procedure in ten Alabama hospitals.
Table of Contents
- How Are Gallbladder Removal Costs Calculated?
- Factors That Determine The Cost Gallbladder Removal Surgery
- Northwest Medical Center
- East Alabama Medical Center
- Medical West Health Centers
- Marshal Medical Center North
- St. Vincent’s St. Clair
- Saint Vincent’s Blount
- Grandview Medical Center
- DHC Regional Medical Center
- Medical West
- St Vincent East
- Frequently Asked Questions
How Are Gallbladder Removal Costs Calculated?
Hospitals calculate the price of the services they offer, much like hotels. A hotel will charge you for accommodation, internet service, meals, and refreshments according to its price list.
Hospitals also have price lists called the chargemaster or charge description master (CDM) that cover medical treatment, lab tests, supplies, and drugs, among other things.
Hospitals typically charge the same costs for similar services, ensuring consistency. Interestingly, billed charges in most hospitals only cover the hospital’s costs—they don’t cover many professional fees.
For instance, if you were to be seen in the emergency room by a physician who is part of an outsourced service, you’d be charged a separate fee for their services.
You’ll also receive an invoice from the surgeon and the anesthesiologist or anesthetist if your procedure requires the outsourcing of these experts.
Factors That Determine The Cost Gallbladder Removal Surgery
It’s challenging to anticipate medical expenses since insurance doesn’t always cover all costs. Even if your insurance fully covers the surgery, you’ll likely encounter additional out-of-pocket expenses.
After your outpatient or inpatient treatment, you’ll be responsible for any expenditure your insurance doesn’t cover (such as deductibles, co-payments, non-covered services, and coinsurance).
Knowing how hospitals in your locality calculate their billing can help you know what to expect.
Apart from the standard pricing for procedures or treatments received, you may notice other additional charges depending on several factors:
- Your duration at the hospital (inpatient or outpatient)
- The type of surgery you undergo
- Underlying health complications
- Surgical time
- Care equipment
- Miscellaneous costs
Duration at the Hospital
The length of time it takes to recover varies. Your hospital stay depends on whether you undergo a laparoscopic or open procedure to remove your gallbladder (cholecystectomy).
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is still mostly performed as an outpatient procedure.
Most of those who undergo keyhole surgery are allowed to leave the hospital the same day. Returning to normal activities takes about two weeks.
On the other hand, you may need to stay in the hospital for three to five days after open surgery, and your recuperation period will be longer. Returning to normal activities can take anywhere from six to eight weeks.
You’ll need to arrange for someone to drive you home from the hospital in both scenarios.
If you go home the same day as your procedure, someone should be with you for at least 24 hours, as you may still be experiencing the effects of the anesthesia.
A longer stay at the hospital will likely amount to a higher bill since you’ll have to pay for extra costs, including:
- Direct costs, which include the cost of nursing, food, and rehabilitation service
- Indirect costs such as equipment use costs, general administration costs, and health records costs
Surgical Procedure Used
As we’ve seen earlier, the two gallbladder removal surgical procedures are laparoscopic and open cholecystectomy.
A gastroenterologist typically determines the necessity for surgery, but a general surgeon normally performs it.
These medical procedures differ, and with this difference comes a difference in costs.
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is the most commonly used procedure for removing gallbladders. It involves your doctor making many small cuts in your abdomen and inserting a laparoscope.
A laparoscope is a tiny, illuminated scope with a video camera at its end. It aids in the removal of your gallbladder.
Laparoscopic gallbladder removal is generally safe and successful, with low complications and a faster recovery time.
Compared to laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, open cholecystectomy is more intrusive and less common.
A surgeon will create a cut across your midsection to remove your gallbladder.
Although open surgery involves additional risks, it’s occasionally the best option for removing an extensively damaged gallbladder.
Gallbladder removal surgeries carry some risks which can result in complications, including:
Bile Juice Leakage
During gallbladder removal surgery, a common procedure involves using clips to plug the conduit that links your gallbladder to your common major bile duct.
If the clip doesn’t effectively seal the tube, bile juice could spill into your belly.
A bile leak can sometimes be treated without requiring additional surgery. However, in more severe situations, a procedure to drain the bile and clean out the inside of your abdomen may be required.
The extra surgery may mean spending more time in hospital, which could escalate the cost of the procedure.
Bile Ducts Abrasion or Injury
Although rare, gallbladder removal surgery can damage your primary bile duct.
If your surgeon notices the problem immediately, they may be able to correct it right away. If they don’t, you may have to undergo a second operation to rectify the problem.
Injuries in Surrounding Tissues
Injuries to the liver, blood arteries, and other tissues near the gallbladder rarely occur, but they can happen during a gallbladder removal surgery.
As is the case with bile duct injuries, the surgeon can detect them as soon as they happen. However, you’ll need a second procedure if the surgical team doesn’t detect the injuries immediately.
The costs of undergoing the second procedure will likely require you to stay longer in the healthcare facility (and a higher final bill).
You’ll likely increase the risk of developing post-surgery blood clots if you have certain preexisting health conditions such as cancer.
You’re also at a high risk of developing post-surgery blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) if you remain immobilized for a prolonged period—perhaps due to an accident.
A deep vein thrombosis is a form of a blood clot that normally starts in your leg but can spread to and settle in other internal organs.
These blood clots could result in serious complications, including cutting off blood flow to your lungs (known as pulmonary embolism) or a stroke.
If your doctor notes the problem in good time, you’ll need to undergo another procedure to eliminate the clot.
You could develop an infection within your body or at the location of your incision after your operation.
Symptoms of post-surgical infections include redness, swelling, and leakage of pus around the operated area.
The infection may require surgical draining of the pus or fluid, resulting in a more extended hospital stay.
Now that we know how hospitals determine the cost of a gallbladder removal surgery, let’s sample costs from a few hospitals.
Northwest Medical Center
To have your gallbladder removed at the Northwest Medical Center, you’ll be required to pay $4,195.80 for a primary outpatient procedure.
You’ll also settle extra charges for the pharmacy, recovery room, and anesthesia, all amounting to about $9,228.10.
Thus, the total cost of the procedure is $13,423.90.
The extra costs depend on the type of surgery you undergo and the extra care you’ll need.
You can reach this hospital by calling (205) 487-7000.
East Alabama Medical Center
As is the case with many other hospital services, determining the accurate final cost of your surgical procedure is a complicated process.
East Alabama Medical Center is one of the few facilities that readily offer you a breakdown of costs.
However, the amount charged may differ from the estimates due to several factors, including:
- Treatment decisions based on your specific needs
- Additional data from your insurer
- Additional medical procedures that you may require
- The timing of your procedure, depending on your annual deductible and year plan
This hospital doesn’t give a definite quotation of the cost of gallbladder removal surgery. However, if you add all the procedures you’ll likely go through, the cost comes to roughly $10,500, assuming you don’t encounter any complications.
You can book an appointment at the East Alabama Medical Center hospital by dialing (334) 749 3411.
Medical West Health Centers
At the Medical West Health Centers, you’ll pay $13,112.59 to have your gallbladder removed using an endoscope. However, the hospital will also offer you a contracted discount of $9,834.44, leaving you with a bill of $3,278.15.
Your insurance can either cover part or the entire amount. If you don’t have insurance, then you’d pay $3,278.15.
You can contact them on (205) 481-7000.
Marshal Medical Center North
At the Marshal Medical Center North, surgical removal of your gallbladder will cost you approximately $9,134.83, assuming you don’t require additional procedures.
This healthcare facility only offers a quotation for laparoscopic surgery. If you require open cholecystectomy, you’ll likely pay more depending on the procedures that the doctor will determine for you.
You can reach the Marshal Medical Center North facility on (256) 571 8000.
St. Vincent’s St. Clair
At St. Vincent’s St. Clair, the estimated cost of a gallbladder removal surgery includes the charges for:
- Observation room
- Surgical procedure
- Recovery room
- Hospital stay
- Laboratory work
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
The quotation doesn’t include professional or physician services that you may require from other providers, such as:
- Emergency room physicians
- Other medical professionals
Therefore, assuming you don’t suffer any complications, the total bill for removing your gallbladder will be $45,118.
The hospital offers you a self-pay discount of 79% ($35,643), leaving you with out-of-pocket costs amounting to $9,475.
You can reach the healthcare facility on (205)338-3301.
Saint Vincent’s Blount
At St. Vincent’s Blount, the full procedure will cost you $18,152, but the organization will give you a self-pay discount of 79% ($14,340).
Assuming you don’t experience complications and don’t have insurance, your estimated out-of-pocket cost will be $3,812.
You can contact the hospital on (205) 271-3000.
Grandview Medical Center
At the Grandview Medical Center, the gross charge for surgical removal of your gallbladder is $24,834.06.
The hospital will give you an outpatient cash price discount of $5,518.18.
You can contact the Grandview Medical Center on (205) 971-1000.
DHC Regional Medical Center
The DHC Regional Medical Center gives you various quotations for laparoscopic cholecystectomy so you can acquire a more accurate estimate of the cost.
Below are the hospital’s charges.
|Procedure||Discount ($)||Final cost ($)|
|DRG Cholecystectomy by a laparoscope without CDE and without complications or comorbidity||0||50,225|
|DRG laparoscopic cholecystectomy without CDE, but with major complication or comorbidity||0||46,657|
|DRG laparoscopic cholecystectomy without CDE, but with major complication or comorbidity (MCC)||0||48,752|
|DRG laparoscopic cholecystectomy without CDE, without complication or comorbidity (CC) or major complication or comorbidity (MCC)||0||2,9475|
The total estimated gross charge for removing your gallbladder using an endoscope at the Medical West is $13,112.59. The hospital will give you a contracted discount of $9,834.44, leaving you with a payer-specific negotiated charge of $3,278.15.
You can contact Medical West Hospital on (205) 481-7000.
St Vincent East
A minimally invasive gallbladder removal surgery (inpatient) at the St Vincent East hospital will cost you $103,210. The hospital gives you a self-pay discount of $81,536 (79%).
Thus, you’ll be required to pay $21,674, but this price depends on the procedure that you’ll need.
Meanwhile, the full cost of a laparoscopic gallbladder removal procedure (outpatient) at the same hospital is $45,118. With a self-pay discount of $35,643, the cost becomes $9,475.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Gallbladder Removal A Major Surgery?
Removing your gallbladder isn’t categorized as major surgery but is regarded as a minimally invasive procedure. During an open cholecystectomy procedure, the surgeon makes an incision roughly five to eight inches into the right side of your abdomen to remove the gallbladder.
Meanwhile, during a laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon will make several one-inch-deep incisions and insert the laparoscope (a tube with a camera) to guide them while removing the gallbladder.
How Long Does the Gallbladder Removal Surgery Take?
If the surgeons decide to remove your bladder via the laparoscopic method, it’ll take about one to two hours to complete the procedure. If you don’t experience any complications, you should be able to go home the same day.
Open gallbladder surgery also takes approximately two hours, but given the extent of the incision, you may have to spend a couple of days in the hospital under observation.
What Are the Side Effects of Removing My Gallbladder?
The gall bladder usually stores the bile juice that’s released to your duodenum to aid the digestion of fats and oils. Removing it could result in difficulties digesting fats and oils, constipation, and frequent flatulence.