Medicare has recently put a lot of focus on preventative health measures to help bring down overall healthcare costs and obesity has been a hot topic. The federal government believes that around 30% of its Medicare population falls into the obese category and this greatly contributes to expensive health issues such as diabetes and heart disease. The article on NJSpotLight.com by Beth Fitzgerald, “Medicare Adds Free Obesity Screening and Counseling to Preventative Services”, talks about how reducing obesity among seniors can help trim healthcare costs.
In the government’s attempt to get the obesity epidemic under control, they are adding free obesity screening in addition to a full year of weight-loss counseling to the long list of preventative services they cover. Dennis J. McGowen, public awareness coordinator for the New Jersey Division of Aging and Community Services in the Department of Health says this obesity coverage is the latest step in an overall movement towards preventative care. Starting in 2012, Medicare adds other preventative care services to the list including an annual primary care wellness visit and an eight session program to help Medicare recipients quit smoking.
The attending physician in internal medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Dr. F. Dein Rice, says this Medicare obesity management benefit is a great change from previous approaches towards dealing with chronic illness. He points out that obesity is the underlying cause of metabolic syndrome and should be addressed first since it’s a marker for high blood pressure, diabetes, as well as high cholesterol. The majority of his patients are overweight or obese and he understands the importance of obesity screening and counseling.