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What is the cost of not keeping your weight under control?

Posted: Jan 13 in Favorites, Medical Weight Loss News, Weight Management Strategies by

Did you know that currently it is abnormal for American adults to be normal weight? In fact, 2 in 3 American adults (1 in 3 children) are overweight or obese. As a result it is now estimated that by the year 2050, 1 in 3 Americans will have developed Type 2 Diabetes. In addition to the health and psychosocial burden, this poses a tremendous economic burden on both individuals and our society.

Many of our patients have found that just a little weight loss results directly in a dramatic reduction in their health care costs. Conditions like diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol become far simpler to manage with even a few pounds of weight loss. We can split medication doses in 1/2 (cost savings 50%), switch to inexpensive generics (usually just $4 per month), or even discontinue certain prescriptions. Conditions like osteoarthritis in the knees, hips, ankles and feet benefit greatly from weight loss enabling individuals to feel better, have less pain, be more active, and come off of anti-inflammatory medications and avoid joint injections and operations.

Individuals are reporting to me every day that they are getting better rates on their health and life insurance if they first lose weight. Often the savings are substantially greater than the cost of the weight management program! For example, one individual told us that he reapplied for an individual health insurance plan, and the rate quote dropped from $800 per month to $300 per month. In spite of still having an elevated Body Mass Index (BMI), an accurate body fat assessment combined with a letter from our office explaining that he was at a healthy weight yielded considerable savings ($6000), far more than was spent on the weight management program.

Another individual told me that when his term life insurance expired, the renewal rate was quoted to him as $11,000. Instead, he pursued a weight loss program, and after losing 30 pounds, was able to get the policy for only $3300, a savings of $7,700, again far less than was spent on the weight management program.

Further, it is estimated that for individuals at higher BMI’s, annual direct health care costs run an average of nearly $5000 more than for the non-obese in large part due to increased emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

Last year, we re-coded our practice and now use standard medical billing codes. Many of our patients have reported improved insurance reimbursement as a result. In particular if you have other related medical problems (diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis of weight bearing joints, heartburn, etc) and have a PPO, HSA, or Flex account, many report successful insurance reimbursement. Insurance generally does not reimburse for commercialized, non-medical programs.

Finally, this discussion wouldn’t be complete without looking at job discrimination. I recently heard Hillary Clinton state that 1/4 of graduating high school students are not eligible for the military due to their BMI not being within required range. Other professions like firefighting and police force often have BMI requirements too. Also, patients of higher BMI are often passed over for promotion and are more poorly reimbursed than their lower BMI counterparts. Certainly this is not fair, but we hear stories like this every day. With weight loss, I have seen many individuals obtain employment, advancement, and raises.

With our difficult economy, don’t get caught with avoidable health expenses. Call us today at 303-750-9454 and let’s find ways to stay healthy!

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