Guarding the Floodgates Against Obesity Care
Last week we met a brave physician guarding the floodgates of demand for obesity care. He told us:
“If all the patients that need bariatric surgery demanded it,
they would bankrupt our health system.”
This is a jarring perspective from a primary care physician in leadership at a large, nonprofit health plan. He confirmed that they are quite successful guarding the floodgates against all the people who need medical and surgical obesity care. He told us:
Fortunately, we have enough hurdles for those obese people that few of them make it through to get bariatric surgery. We don’t need to be spending all that money on surgery and drugs when exercise works so well. But if a patient with severe obesity demands the surgery, they’re eventually going to get it.
Such talk is nonsense. Those hurdles are keeping people with severe obesity in a poor state of health and costing the health plan money.
Though we can’t argue with the benefits of exercise, it’s not, by itself, a magic cure for severe obesity. Exercise therapy can lead to better health outcomes for people who have surgery, but it’s not a substitute. For instance, it won’t reliably reverse type 2 diabetes by itself. Bariatric surgery will.
For people who need it, bariatric surgery is life saving. Data from the Geisinger Health System at ObesityWeek proved that once again.
So we are left to wonder. Is a doctor who takes pride in discouraging people from a life saving procedure really a healer? Is the health plan that fears people who need obesity care already bankrupt?
Click here for more on the survival benefits of bariatric surgery, here for more on the benefits in type 2 diabetes, and here for the study from Geisinger. Click here for more on the benefits of exercise in bariatric surgery patients.
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November 13, 2016