New research suggests that severe obesity is placing a huge financial strain on both the United States’ Medicaid system as well as on the severely obese themselves. According to the study, $69 billion dollars is spent in the United States each year on obesity-related health services. Currently, Medicaid pays about 10% of the annual cost of treating severely obese individuals, and that total is likely to rise as Medicaid expands under the Affordable Care Act. Overall, people who are severely obese pay $1,980 more for healthcare than non-obese individuals. Co-author Dr. Michael Long adds, “Medicaid patients, who have low resources and a high burden of disease and obesity, are not covered completely. So severe obesity is a big burden on both Medicaid and patients.” Dr. Long and his colleagues add that diet and exercise initiatives are needed to curb severe obesity and its associated health costs.
Health Affairs, November 2015