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Searching for Value in Obesity Treatment

What’s the value of innovation in obesity treatment?

An unusually diverse group of stakeholders gathered at the Center for Medical Technology Policy (CMTP) to define some shared views about value in obesity treatment Monday. Patient advocates, private health plans, scientific organizations, regulators, government health plans, and medical technology innovators were all represented.

OAC: Policy ChallengesObesity Action Coalition CEO Joe Nadglowski described the challenges that people with obesity face when seeking treatment. He told the group:

Policies that confront people seeking treatment for obesity are inconsistent at best. Wellness programs that impose weight goals are routinely paired with health plans that exclude coverage for evidence-based obesity treatment. People have too few options and when such options exist, they are hidden behind policies that limit access — even though utilization is ridiculously low.

Illustrating this point, Chief Medical Officer Sylvia Lopez of the Oklahoma Medicaid Program explained that their program never covered bariatric surgery for any patients until ordered to do so by an administrative law judge. And even so, the program now has so many limitations that it is seldom utilized.

And from there a lively discussion followed on how to develop a rational process for decision making about paying for new technology to treat obesity.

In an interview for the Washington Post, Obesity Society Policy Advisor Ted Kyle pointed out that reimbursement policies are not keeping up with broad recognition that obesity is a complex, chronic disease. He said “people still assume that obesity is simply a matter of bad choices. But the fact is that better than half of the risk of obesity is inherited.”

Said Caroline Apovian, Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Research Center at Boston University, “Coverage has to happen in order for the obesity problem to be taken care of. Insurance companies need to realize it’s not a matter of willpower, it’s a disease.”

Innovation to address the vast unmet medical need for better obesity treatment has little value if it’s out of reach for most people with health insurance.

Click here for the annotated bibliography prepared for the CMTP Obesity Treatment Workshop and here to read more from the Washington Post.

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2 Responses to “Searching for Value in Obesity Treatment”

  1. January 15, 2015 at 7:56 am, Allen Browne said:

    Interesting meeting. Who were the pediatric people present? The children add another layer of issues to the topic.