Personal responsibility to maintain a healthy normal weight is absent from most healthcare discussions. According to the National Institute of Health (http://win.niddk.nih.gov/statistics/index.htm) only one third of U.S adults maintain a normal weight. Over two-thirds of U.S. Adults are classified as overweight or obese. Only 31 percent of U.S. adults and 35 percent of high school students report in participating in regular leisure time physical activities.
These numbers are staggering. America is paying the price for the excess pounds.
Excess weight harms health in many ways driving up direct and indirect costs of healthcare. Medical costs of treating obese individuals is 42% higher than their normal weight counterparts. Per capita medical spending on the obese amounted to a 150% increase over those of normal weight.
These medical obesity costs have been compared to the medical cost associated with smoking. (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-consequences/economic/)
In 2008, the medical costs of obesity in the US totaled $147 billion. (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/causes/index.html)
The cost of obesity by insurance status and type of service provided are broken down below. (http://win.niddk.nih.gov/statistics/index.htm)
For each obese beneficiary:
- Medicare pays $1,723 more than it pays for normal-weight beneficiaries.
- Medicaid pays $1,021 more than it pays for normal-weight beneficiaries.
- Private insurers pay $1,140 more than they pay for normal-weight beneficiaries.
For each obese patient:
- Medicare pays $95 more for an inpatient service, $693 more for a non-inpatient service, and $608 more for prescription drugs in comparison with normal-weight patients.
- Medicaid pays $213 more for an inpatient service,$175 more for a non-inpatient service, and $230 more for prescription drugs in comparison with normal-weight patients.
- Private insurers pay $443 more for an inpatient service, $398 more for a non-inpatient service, and $284 more for prescription drugs in comparison with normal-weight patients.
Prevention and personal responsibility are the bottom line to holding down health care costs. Every day people make choices about what and how much food to eat, whether to prepare food at home or eat at a restaurant, and whether to sit in front of the TV or exercise.
How can we make people responsible for maintaining a healthy weight so we can hold down healthcare costs in the U.S.? The answer starts with you. Take an honest look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are part of the problem? Now is the time for everyone to make better choices and take personal responsibility to help control healthcare costs in the U.S for now and the future.