Socioeconomic Issues Affecting the Treatment of Obesity in the New Millennium
Louis F. Martin
Barbara J. Moore
The prevalence of obesity among the populations of most developed countries has increased to such an extent that the healthcare and social security/disability system will accumulate direct and indirect costs related to obesity that will be more substantial than those for any other primary disease within this generation. For the past decade, the Healthcare Financing Agency, which oversees the Medicare and Medicaid programmes, has required all physicians and healthcare agencies serving beneficiaries of these programmes to include diagnoses using codes established by the ninth revision of the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases. This coding system actually distorts data collection and undermines appropriate medical insurance reimbursement for the treatment of obesity. Societal prejudices, inability of governmental agencies to address future concerns and the business community's attempts to control healthcare costs without addressing the underlying issues contributing to these costs have led to confusion on how to confront this emerging epidemic. How will we develop the scientific knowledge and the political willpower to confront this epidemic? First, we need more accurate methods for classifying obesity and for measuring the cost of treatment. We can then determine if it is more cost effective to prevent or treat obesity early in its evolution or pay for its consequences in the form of treatment costs associated with its multiple comorbid diseases, such as hypertension, other cardiovascular disorders, diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis and cancers, plus the lost productivity from absenteeism, premature retirement and death.
Anorectics, Cost analysis, Diet, Exercise, Obesity, Obesity therapies, Pharmacoeconomics, Surgery
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