- A new study published in Health Affairs found severe obesity cost state Medicaid programs nearly $8 billion annually.
- “These costs are likely to increase following Medicaid expansion and enhanced coverage of weight loss therapies in the form of nutrition consultation, drug therapy, and bariatric surgery,” the authors wrote.
- Severely obesity is defined by having a body mass index of 35 or higher. The authors concluded in 2013, severe obesity cost the U.S. about $69 billion.
Approximately 78 million Americans are obese, increasing their risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, as well as other health conditions, Healthcare Dive previously reported. Recently, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommended screenings for abnormal blood glucose as part of cardiovascular risk assessment for adults aged 40 to 70 years who are overweight or obese.
In 2013, annual costs related to obesity ranged from $64 million in Wyoming to $9.1 billion in California, Becker’s Hospital Review reported. Medicaid covered costs ranged from $5 million in Wyoming to $1.3 billion in California.
“Approximately 11% of the cost of severe obesity was paid for by Medicaid, 30% by Medicare and other federal health programs, 27% by private health plans, and 30% out of pocket,” the authors wrote.
They concluded, “Ensuring and expanding Medicaid-eligible populations’ access to cost-effective treatment for severe obesity should be part of each state’s strategy to mitigate rising obesity-related healthcare costs.”