Plan de los ahorros $15 mil millones de Seguro de enfermedad: ¿Su waistline?

por Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | September 09, 2011
Researchers say Medicare could save billions of dollars over the next decade simply by enrolling overweight older folks in 16-week weight loss programs.

In an article in the September issue of Health Affairs, two Emory University public health analysts calculated that Medicare could save up to $15 billion if it provided community-based fat-fighting programs to overweight and obese adults aged 60-64 who are at risk for diabetes and heart disease.

"Medicare savings could range from approximately $7 billion to $15 billion, depending on how broadly program eligibility was defined and actual levels of program participation," write Kenneth E. Thorpe and Zho Yang, both with the Rollins School of Public Health.

The program rests on the idea that you can improve the health of older adults on the cusp of becoming eligible for Medicare. And that by stalling the development of heart disease or diabetes, the government could save money on treatment costs.

The model the researchers used is based on findings that lifestyle-modification programs can help people shed, and keep off, 5-6 percent of their body weight. One program, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, YMCA and the insurer UnitedHealth Group, cut the risk of developing diabetes by more than 70 percent, according to the authors.

In the program, a trained lifestyle coach taught overweight people at risk for diabetes to eat right and exercise.

Still, a 16-week training regimen wouldn't be free. The group estimates it would cost Medicare $590 million to put it in place for those 60-64 with pre-diabetes -- that is, with borderline high-blood sugar levels. However, the researchers argue the program would end up saving Medicare $2.3 billion over the next decade, and $9.3 billion over the lifetimes of the participants.

By also expanding the program to include additional overweight people with high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, Medicare could save $3.7 billion over the next ten years, and $15.1 billion over the patients' lifetimes, assuming a high participation rate, the researchers said.

You Must Be Logged In To Post A Comment