Obesity Cure Only a Dream for America’s Heaviest Populations
According to some clinical epidemiologists like Laurie K. from Memorial University, bariatric surgery is the best long-term solution for morbidly obese patients – but in some states like Mississippi – which has the second-highest obesity rate in the country – this weight-loss surgery is out of reach for most people who are eligible for it but don’t have the financial resources to get it.
A Growing Health Crisis
Obesity is a growing health crisis in Mississippi which affects more than 37 per cent of its population. Despite ranking second on the list of America’s most obese states, Mississippi is one of the only two states that does not provide coverage for bariatric surgery under the Medicaid insurance program which has almost 760,000 people enrolled in it. The surgery could change the lives of several Mississippians battling obesity, but the procedure can cost thousands of dollars to those who have to pay for the cost out of their own pockets.
A medical expert who has been performing bariatric surgery for almost a decade says that the popular gastric sleeve that most patient prefer to get can cost anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000 without help from insurance companies. The gastric sleeve is an extremely invasive surgery that changes the shape of the stomach and shrinks it to the size of a banana. This directly affects hunger and satiation hormones in patients and makes them feel hungry less often and get full after eating only a small portion.
An Effective Obesity Cure
This obesity intervention has worked for almost every patient who received it, inducing weight-loss naturally by reducing their hunger and portion sizes. Bariatric surgery patients don’t have to starve themselves or follow strict diets and exercise regimens to lose weight, and once they have successfully shed the excess pounds, they are able to maintain their progress with more ease than those who lose weight through diet and exercise.
Many dietitians who have helped obese people lose weight through diet and physical activity say that patients often tend to put the weight back on after going off the diet, and for some extremely overweight patients, the conventional weight-loss methods don’t have the same effect as bariatric surgery. Those who are lucky enough to get the surgery without paying thousands of dollars have to change their portions and eating habits drastically in order to avoid digestive issues, internal bleeding and other health issues.
Most States Don’t Provide Coverage
Despite the increased risk of complications, bariatric surgery is still a better long-term solution for losing weight than exercise and diet, especially for those who suffer from health issues like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases and have more than 100 pounds to lose. Experts say that bariatric surgery can decrease a patient’s death risk by half, but insurance companies view the procedure in similar light as a cosmetic surgery instead of a life-saving intervention.
The procedure isn’t covered under employee, Medicaid or Obamacare plans in most states. In South Carolina, the only Obamacare insurer with more than 200,000 participants considers the bariatric surgery unnecessary, therefore does not provide coverage for it. The State’s employee health plan called Peba explains that it doesn’t cover most expensive treatments, including the bariatric surgery, in order to keep the plan affordable for everyone.
Long-Term Cost Efficiency
Arkansas, the state with third-highest obesity rates in the country doesn’t provide coverage for bariatric surgery under the Obamacare plan either. In other states like Wisconsin, doctors are forced to turn away obese patients who are desperately in need for help, simply because neither the state employee nor the Obamacare program provides coverage for the weight-loss surgery.
Jon Gould, a bariatric surgeon at Medical College of Wisconsin says that the government fails to understand that including bariatric surgery in insurance plans can be cost effective in the long run when obese patients won’t need expensive diabetes management programs and frequent trips to the hospital.
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