The age of Obamacare has arrived and with the health care act comes sweeping changes to the heath care system. One of those changes has to do with how the health care industry deals with the problem of obesity.
Obesity in America is at epidemic proportions. Currently about a third of the population is considered to be obese, which is roughly 35 or more pounds over a healthy weight. The rise in obesity has put a strain on the health care system in America.
More and more people each year are being stricken with weight related ailments such as heart disease and diabetes which racks, "up billions of dollars in weight-related medical bills. It costs about $1,400 more a year to treat an obese patient compared with a person at a healthy weight, research shows."
Some health insurance companies have already tried to help obese patients by offering weight loss or wellness programs to school, businesses, or whole communities. Some have offered to pay for prescription drugs which help fight obesity or have even offered to cover expensive bariatric surgeries including gastric bypass surgery.
But under the Affordable Care Act, most insurance plans will be required to do all they can to help obese patients lose weight. How they get the patients to lose the weight is up to the individual plans.
“Screening and counseling for obesity has to be covered with no patient cost-sharing – co-payments, co-insurance or deductibles – by most insurers under the preventive services benefit of the Affordable Care Act,” says Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for America's Health Insurance Plans, the national trade association representing the health insurance industry.
Once a patient is screened, the best plan of action to help them lose weight will be mapped by out by an attending physician and others, according to whether they're health risk is high or low. Some of the treatment plans include but are not limited to counseling programs, referring people to such organizations as Weight Watchers and telephone counseling for low risk patients.
Professor Donna Ryan, an obesity researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, stated that if, "We can get a five percent or more weight loss in about half the people who enter a behavior intervention comprehensive lifestyle program led by a nutrition professional. If we add weight-loss medications, we can produce a five percent weight loss in two-thirds of the people."