Our friends at the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation have released a new report outlining the costs of patients with severe obesity.
This is a critical issue for Michigan, which has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation.
Using data from Blue Cross Blue Shield, the report finds not only a significant increase in total health care costs between those patients who are categorized as obese (with a body mass index of more than 30) and those who are overweight or healthy weight.
While people of healthy weight and those overweight incurred annual health care costs of $3,700 and $4,000 per person, those individuals categorized as obese incurred significantly higher costs.
Moderately obese patients incurred an average of $4,700 in annual costs and severely obese patients averaged more than $7,000 in health care costs each year.
What does this mean for public health care policy?
The CHRT report outlines several potential solutions health care providers and policy makers can consider when addressing this on-going problem.
The first option is to expand the rate of patients seeking bariatric surgery. Of all the treatments for severe obesity with proven results, this procedure is one of the most effective.
However, only 1.3% of eligible patients have used this procedure.
Additionally, Intensive Behavioral Therapy treatments have been shown to be effective to reduce significant weight reduction in obese patients. This treatment includes 12 to 26 sessions per year with a health care provider.
What’s most important is the realization that doing nothing isn’t an option when it comes to addressing our obesity problem.