KEY TAKEAWAY: Total nominal US health care spending increased 4.3 percent and reached $3.3 trillion in 2016. Per capita spending on health care increased by $354, reaching $10,348. These statistics should be alarming because it’s further indication that our health care system is failing the very people it was intended to help.
Tracy was overweight and was in danger of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to her blood work. In the two years that her doctor had seen her, she had not lost any weight or exercised at all. Her doctor had seen enough and promptly informed that either she start following a diet he recommended or look for another doctor. His threat to drop Tracy worked and she promptly lost 30 pounds over the next 4 months. But what would have happened if Tracy’s doctor hadn’t said anything?
Obesity is one of the biggest drivers of preventable chronic diseases and health care costs in the United States . Currently, estimates of these costs range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year. In addition, obesity is associated with job absenteeism, costing approximately $4.3 billion annually and with lower productivity while at work, costing employers $506 per obese worker per year.
So whose responsibility is it to tell patients that they are living unhealthy lifestyles and in danger of developing chronic illnesses that could devastate their quality of life? Physicians, insurers, family members?
Obese adults spend 42 percent more on direct health care costs than adults who are a healthy weight and our health care system is not doing a damn thing to address it. If anyone believes that mHealth apps can change unhealthy lifestyles for the majority of people there is a bridge I would like to sell them.
Our health care system is designed to treat people not prevent lifestyle illnesses and that strategy is hurting us all as the United States will not be escaping the obesity epidemic crisis anytime soon: Nearly 40% of adults and 19% of youth are obese, the highest rate the country has ever seen in all adults, according to research released Friday by the National Center for Health Statistics.
Since 1999, there has been a staggering rise in the prevalence of obesity, particularly in adults, without any “signs of it slowing down ,” according to the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Craig Hales, medical epidemiologist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Why? The reasons are not as complex as most would have us believe. Sure, restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory have menu’s that cater to people who like to eat poorly, but it’s OUR choice to just say “no”.
Insurers, HCP’s, and family all have to combine to send messages to people who are causing our healthcare costs to skyrocket. Doctor’s and nurses have to tell patients if they are obese and recommend that they change their lifestyles or ask them to find a different doctor. Insurers need to develop preventative strategies and inform customers that treating some conditions is a hell of a lot more than “taking a pill”.