Medicare non-coverage of obesity therapies is costing country billions
Case Study: Medicare non-coverage of obesity therapies is costing country billions
More than 35 percent of Americans are clinically obese. The growing obesity epidemic costs Americans more than $190 billion each year on obesity-related medical expenses. In 2013, the American Medical Association (AMA) officially declared obesity a disease, and while private health insurance policies are beginning to include coverage for anti-obesity drugs, Medicare does not – the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, established in 2003, contains outdated rules which generally don’t cover “weight-loss drugs.” Changing the rules to allow Medicare coverage of new FDA-approved anti-obesity therapies could save the country billions in healthcare costs.
CHI partnered with advocacy groups and CHI members to host an educational Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill with Members of Congress and staff. At the briefing, CHI unveiled a white paper discussing the obesity epidemic, and identifying ways public policy can help combat the epidemic and reduce associated healthcare costs. We also led a social media campaign on Twitter (#CombatObesity) to raise awareness of biomedical innovations in obesity management.
The briefing highlighted the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, important legislation introduced in the House and Senate to provide Medicare coverage of medication for treatment of obesity or for weight loss management for an overweight individual with one or more comorbidities. CHI’s briefing, social media campaign, and related white paper resulted in more than one dozen new cosponsors of the legislation – to date, 101 Members of Congress (98 Representatives, 3 Senators) have signed on as cosponsors for the legislation.