Primrose Opening Up

Mental Health: One Less Excuse for Denying Access to Care

We get it. Bariatric surgery – not unlike any surgery – costs real money. But unlike many other surgeries, health plans have a bagful of excuses for dodging the bill. One of those excuses for discrimination – mental health – may be evaporating.

Good Outcomes, Even in Patients with Severe Mental Illness

A new study in the May issue of Obesity demonstrates that mental illness prior to surgery has no effect on the clinical success of bariatric surgery. This study of more than 8,000 patients provides a much broader perspective than has ever before been available.

In a commentary published alongside this new study, James Mitchell observes:

Given the severity of medical complications associated with severe obesity, the current findings suggest that health care providers need to strongly consider bariatric surgical procedures for their severely obese mentally ill patients who are in a period of relative stability. Such a diagnosis can no longer be considered a viable exclusion criterion.

Doubling Down on Discrimination

Severe obesity and mental illness deliver a double whammy. Sometimes the two conditions are related. Many meds for treating mental illness can cause weight gain. Living with both conditions doubles the unjust discrimination that a person faces.

If life and health are at risk because of obesity, a history of mental illness is a lousy excuse for denying a person good medical care. It’s time to stop discrimination in healthcare – both for mental health and for obesity. Shame on health plans that use a health condition as an excuse for discrimination.

Click here for the study and here for the commentary.

Primrose Opening Up, photograph © Carol Von Canon / flickr

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May 8, 2017