Read part 2 of AMA Recognizes Obesity as a Disease
AMA Recognizes Obesity as a Disease
The recent decision by the American Medical Association (AMA) to classify obesity as a disease has been greeted with both nods of approval and concerns. The first to feel the impact of the new status of obesity probably will be insurance companies.
Initially, insurance companies can anticipate some bruising to profit margins, due to an increase in claims for obesity. Across the long run, potential cost savings for obesity related conditions are feasible due to an overall improvement in degree of care, but the immediate effect will be an increase in costs reimbursement.
Hope for long-term rewards would be a reduction in costs to treat obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular conditions. The question then becomes whether or not covering obesity at the primary stage will offset the long-term costs of treating a disease that has run rampant because earlier and less expensive measures were not taken.
But insurance company losses could be gains for the pharmaceutical industry. Should pharmaceutical companies believe that coverage for obesity-related drugs is about to increase, they very well could begin investing more dollars into those types of drugs. Indeed, there has been a flood of diet drugs to the marketplace already. Read: Prescription Diet Pill Market Set to Expand
Employer Concerns About the AMA Ruling
Employers have expressed concerns about the recent AMA decision that classifies obesity as a disease. Job creators fear that the new definition will increase the likelihood that people will be recognized as disabled, per amendments to the American Disabilities Act. Many employment law officials are concerned about an increased potential for lawsuits in a country where one-third of the population is obese and another one-third is overweight.
At least for the time being, the law defines disability as being morbidly obese, or about two times the normal body weight. Despite this definition, employees who are not morbidly obese are still protected if the employer considers them impaired.
Legalities Aside, Prevention is the Best Cure
Following the AMA’s decision on obesity, some members of Congress introduced a bill that would expand Medicare reimbursements for weight-loss drugs and treatment. I suppose this is something of a good thing although Congressional policymakers have become somewhat questionable as of late.
The bottom line: Hopefully, one of the things that the AMA’s decision to recognize obesity as a disease will do is increase attention regarding the disease itself. The fact remains that much of the time obesity can be prevented.
We make daily choices, and should we choose to inflict harm onto ourselves we will certainly be harmed. The temptations are great to promote poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle, but social influences are not social demands. We are not obligated to Burger King or PlayStation; we choose them. The most direct avenue to better results are better choices. Exercise more. Eat properly. But you already know that.