Sunday, September 18, 2011
When you socialize medicine -- as we have largely done with the hugely popular Medicare program -- everybody's health is a social issue. Expect to see many more stories like this one, quite possibly with accompanying regulatory intervention:
Rising chronic disease prevalence among Medicare beneficiaries, including new enrollees, is a key driver of health care spending. Randomized trials have shown that lifestyle modification interventions such as those in the National Diabetes Prevention Program clinical trial reduce the incidence of chronic disease and that community-based programs applying the same principles can produce net health care savings. We propose expanding a proven, community-based weight loss program nationwide and enrolling overweight and obese prediabetic adults ages 60–64. We estimate that making the program available to a single cohort of eligible people could save Medicare $1.8–$2.3 billion over the following ten years. Estimated savings would be even higher ($3.0–$3.7 billion) if equally overweight people at risk for cardiovascular disease were also enrolled. We estimate that lifetime Medicare savings could range from approximately $7 billion to $15 billion, depending on how broadly program eligibility was defined and actual levels of program participation, for a single “wave” of eligible people. In this context we propose that Medicare expand its new wellness benefit to include reimbursement for this and other qualifying behavior change programs.
In other words, you can help reduce the deficit by losing some weight and getting in to shape! Don't complain about the dysfunctional political class until you've done your part!
(See how annoying that is? Sadly, we made the decision to go down this path not in 2010 with Obamacare, but in 1965.)
I prefer switching it from a social issue back to an individual health issue by increasing the cost of health insurance to cover the predicted increase in medical care costs of those whose personal behaviors increase the cost of their medical care--comparable to the increased premiums for life insurance for those whose personal behavior puts them at greater risk.
Persons could decide for themselves what is more valuable to them--their money or the pleasure from their behaviors--and enrolling in these health programs would be their own choice.
TigerHawk - Here's my post from a couple of years ago on the same subject. It turns out that it is our business when Betty Beauchaine eats a hot dog.
And I wish that it weren't, as I explain in the post.