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Positive Action for Access to Care

NOCW Do You BelieveMake no mistake about it. National Obesity Care week is all about speaking out for better access to care for obesity. ConscienHealth is proud to be among 50 champions supporting National Obesity Care Week. We believe that everyone should have access to obesity care. A person’s size, weight, or economic status should not limit their access. It’s all about taking positive action and looking forward to a better future.

But today is also day for looking back and take stock of the results that positive action has already brought.

More Access, More Options, and More Support

Ten years ago, we were in a very different place. Back then, research programs for new anti-obesity drugs were shutting down. The FDA was saying no to every new drug that came before them. The agency pressured the makers of sibutramine to withdraw it from the market. Medicare would not pay for gastric sleeve operations. At that time, the Obesity Action Coalition had only about 12,000 members. No annual meeting.

But now, we have four new anti-obesity medicines. CMS covers the gastric sleeve. Even though access to care for obesity is not yet on par with other chronic diseases, it’s steadily improving. Back then, virtually no one could get covered for behavioral support programs or anti-obesity meds.

Now, most health plans at least provide symbolic coverage for behavioral support. Roughly a third of health plans provide some coverage for anti-obesity meds. And for the most part, access to bariatric surgery is steadily improving. For teens who need surgery, it’s not an easy pathway. But it’s more possible now than it was just five years ago.

OAC has grown into a vibrant community with nearly 70,000 members. The annual YWM Convention is a boost for many hundreds of people. We look forward to that boost all year. Some people find it to be life-changing. It’s a community where we support and stand up for each other. Fat shaming that used to be the norm is now soundly rejected in the mainstream.

The Benefits of Gratitude

Did you know that gratitude is an exercise in mindfulness that can actually be good for your health? Alex Wood, Jeffrey Froh, and Adam Geraghty summarized a large body of literature on the relationship between gratitude and well-being. It’s related to a wide variety of forms of well-being.

So on this day of positive action, we suggest that you reflect on ways in which your access to care has improved over time. What do you feel grateful for? Make a list and share it if as you wish.

Click here for the study by Wood, Froh and Geraghty. And, by all means, click here to learn more about National Obesity Care Week and join in the positive action.

Take Action! photograph © Obesity Action Coalition

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September 18, 2019

3 Responses to “Positive Action for Access to Care”

  1. September 18, 2019 at 10:30 am, Allen Browne said:

    Access to care should not depend on age!


  2. September 18, 2019 at 3:09 pm, Pam said:

    I’m grateful for my multidiscipline healthcare team. At a small VA Medical Center, we’ve worked hard over the past 5 years to provide our Veterans with options including Registered Dietitian visits, Health Coaching, Bariatric Surgery, Weight Loss Medications, and Healthy Lifestyle and Whole Health behavior support.

    This team has worked to educate our providers as well. We are about to open access to weight loss medication by working with our pharmacist to educate and support our Veterans Primary Care Providers.

    And, I am very grateful for ConscienHealth for keeping my team up to date on all things that impact the overall health of our Veterans managing obesity.

  3. September 18, 2019 at 4:15 pm, Walter Lindstrom said:

    Gratitude about improved access – what a wonderful idea! When we started our “Obesity Law & Advocacy Center” (now Lindstrom Obesity Advocacy) in 1996, we fought payers who claimed that laparoscopic gastric bypass was “experimental” and patients were forced to have open procedures. We’ve come a long way since then. I owe gratitude everywhere, but here’s a few:

    1. Obesity Action Coalition – an organized, unified VOICE OF PATIENTS and others affected by obesity – and whose tireless work has led to greater access to care
    2. the substantially higher percentage of payers covering bariatric / metabolic surgery
    3. Collaboration – not competition – between various medical specialty societies with a common goal of improving care for all patients affected by obesity and working together to improve access
    4. Increased recognition (by some, yet so much more to do) that obesity is a disease and not a character flaw treated with “push away from the table and walk around the block…” ignorance