HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Obesity Is Major Threat to Medicare Budget

As reported by Reuters, an article (PDF) in this week's JAMA (requires paid subscription) reports that citizens who are obese at middle-age will be about twice as expensive as normal-weight patients to care for when they hit the Medicare rolls:

Men and women who are obese in middle age will be up to twice as expensive to cover under Medicare, the government health plan that kicks in after Americans reach age 65, according to new study findings reported Tuesday.

The investigators found that men and women who were severely obese between the ages of 33 and 64 accumulated more than $170,000 in Medicare charges over their lifetimes.

Specifically, average annual Medicare charges for normal-weight women worked out to be $6224, compared with $12,342 for severely obese women; the corresponding charges for men were $7205 compared with $13,674, the authors report in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

"There is a long, long list of diseases related to overweight and obesity," lead author Dr. Martha L. Daviglus told Reuters Health. "The weight is making the individuals sicker."

She explained that the main culprits are likely cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers, as well as the diseases that are aggravated by obesity.

Nevertheless, she said she was "very surprised to see these huge differences."

The article scores obesity according to standard body-mass index calculations.  If you want to be really depressed, you can check out your body-mass index here and consult the BMI tables here.

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That's rediculous! This comes as no surprise to me. Like most government ran programs, there is no one held accountable and money is thrown away on a daily basis.

I am overweight, but you won't see me going to the government for money when I can make a few lifestyle changes and be on my way to a thinner life.

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Posted by: Ryan | Dec 18, 2004 4:39:43 PM

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