Pay for obesity prevention now or get bigger bill later for chronic diseases

LETTER — Posted May 24, 2004

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Regarding "Insurers trim bariatric surgery coverage" (Article, April 5): Insurers and employers are missing the (life)boat on this issue. Obesity is becoming epidemic among the young and old in this country. If we don't work on preventing this disease, the cost of care for these obese children and adults will far exceed the cost of surgery.

The clinical evidence is clear that obesity leads to much higher rates of diabetes, cardiac disease, arthritis, hypertension. These are all chronic illnesses that lead to significant increases in morbidity and mortality.

Insurers and employers will be paying to take care of obesity through bariatric surgery; or they will pay the bills for treating the high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, broken hips, diabetes.

If they really want to decrease cost for medical care they would focus on prevention. Insurance coverage for preventive care is the answer.

Let's focus on making sure we never even have to deal with the weight problems, and in this fashion we can help decrease the incidence of all these devastating diseases that significantly decrease the quality and quantity of lives.

Salvatore Lacagnina, DO, Fort Myers, Fla.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/05/24/edlt0524.htm.

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