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Rising obesity rates affect healthcare costs

May 09, 2012
Uncategorized By LW Consulting Inc.

The obesity epidemic in the United States has made a big impact on American's health. However, there is one more vital aspect to consider when it comes to the increasing amount of overweight people in the U.S. Any physician consultant would tell you that healthcare costs are soaring due to these obesity rates.

Reuters reports that hospitals are now installing floor model toilets to accommodate obese patients and the rise of diseases such as heart defects are usually tied to overweight patients.

Previously, other bad habits such as smoking cigarettes caused an increase in healthcare expenses. However, now medical spending due to the obesity epidemic has surpassed the costs of smoking.

Businesses and other organizations also face the same financial impact that overweight Americans do. For example, employers must provide health insurance to treat medical conditions for obese employees, who are more likely to suffer from a health problem. Some higher healthcare costs come in the form of increased health insurance premiums while other expenses rise when managers must build wider seats in public places.

Not long ago, smoking was the biggest vice causing soaring healthcare costs. Once scientists discovered that second-hand smoke could cause lung cancer in nonsmokers, lawmakers began changing the way smoking was affecting the lives of American citizens, mostly by instituting non-smoking zones. Now that rising healthcare costs due to obesity are being addressed, policymakers are starting to make new suggestions in fighting this epidemic.

"The U.S. health care reform law of 2010 allows employers to charge obese workers 30 percent to 50 percent more for health insurance if they decline to participate in a qualified wellness program. The law also includes carrots and celery sticks, so to speak, to persuade Medicare and Medicaid enrollees to see a primary care physician about losing weight," Sharon Begley wrote in an April 30 article for Reuters.

Healthcare providers that are seeking to reduce healthcare costs as well as obesity rates should speak to a nurse consultant providing skilled nursing services.