Category Archives: Obesity

These are the world’s healthiest nations | World Economic Forum

Some statistics about the world’s healthiest nations, according to the World Economic Forum. You will notice that the first time the US is mentioned, is when we are listed as the nation with the most expensive health care.

Imagine if we actually had a “free market”, competitive system where providers of health care services could and would charge anything they wanted because there was no one to stop them? Actually, that is what drives the cost of drugs.

And you will see in the first chart, that many of the nations listed have some form of universal, single payer health care, where everyone is covered, and costs are lower, and have better outcomes.

While no males in every region shown in the second chart has a higher life expectancy, which is understood, since females live longer than males, females in Europe have the longest life expectancy, no doubt due to the better outcomes of their single payer systems.

And finally, in the fourth chart, the US is at the bottom of the bell curve for obesity for both men and women among all the Western nations, and Japan and South Korea. There is a strong correlation between the rankings from Bloomberg in chart 1, and the rates of obesity in chart 4.

So for you skeptics and opponents of single payer, here is the article with some very nice graphics that will help you see the light: 

Spain has cracked the secret to a healthy life, with a Mediterranean diet and publicly funded primary healthcare sending it to the top of the latest global rankings.

Source: These are the world’s healthiest nations | World Economic Forum

Absenteeism Due to Obesity Costly to US Employers

In an article today in Business Insurance, Stephanie Goldberg wrote that absenteeism among obese workers in the US cost employers about $8.65 billion dollars each year. This was according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The costs associated with obesity-related work absences vary from state to state, Goldberg writes, citing a statement by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The statement said, in the article, that obesity accounts for about 9.3% of all absenteeism costs nationwide, ranging from 6.5% in Washington, D.C. (hey, what about all those fat cats?), to 12.6% in Arkansas (that’s after Bill Clinton left the state).

The study, it was reported, found that obese workers miss an extra 1.1 to 1.7 days of work each year compared with overweight or normal-weight workers.

“Obesity is associated with high direct costs for medical care, but the societal costs due to health-related work absences and reduced productivity could be even higher,” according to the statement referred to by Ms. Goldberg.

On a side note, my brother David is one of two physicians Board Certified in Bariatrics in the State of Delaware, and many of his patients are lower-middle class and working class, blue collar workers in the Wilmington, Delaware area, so he is well aware of the problem obesity presents to the employers in his area.

To get a picture of where the workers’ compensation industry is on this subject, a quick perusal of the articles written in the past year or so, informs us that this is an issue worth paying attention to.

Here are some of the articles I found from some of the very blogs and publications I have cited in past articles in this blog:

Obesity and Workers Compensation: Strategies to Improve Claims Outcomes

Obesity Problems Weigh on Workers’ Comp

Impact of Obesity on Workers’ Compensation

New AMA Classification Of Obesity: How It Affects Workers’ Compensation And Mandatory Reporting

Back in April, I wrote an article about a Federal district court ruling that obesity may be a disability. The case before the court dealt with an employee who was terminated due to his obesity. One of the options the employer could have chosen instead of termination was a corporate wellness program, as in the case I cited in my White Paper.

Another option is weight-loss surgery at a medical tourism destination, as one company in NC did with one of its employees, which I discussed in my article, US Companies Look to ‘Medical Tourism’ To Cut Costs, and reported on ABC News. Last May, I met the patient assistant featured in the ABC video at a medical tourism summit in Miami Beach. She recently reunited with the patient while on a business trip to the US, and from the pictures I saw, the woman who had weight-loss surgery in Costa Rica was a different person from the one on the video.

So, the problem of obesity in the US is getting more costly every year, and if employers, their insurance carriers, and the employees themselves want to take an aggressive and cost-effective solution to deal with this epidemic, medical tourism would be one of the options available, so that employers would not lose productivity and absenteeism from obesity would not cost billions of dollars.

And given the rising numbers of enrollees in the ACA, access to weight-loss surgery centers here in the US, may necessitate looking elsewhere, especially if costs for the procedures continue to rise, or if less expensive alternative destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean cater to such patients. Workers’ Comp would best be served by availing itself of this option.