What Does It Cost To Be Unhealthy?

Most of us are aware of the consequences of obesity on our health as it pertains to increased risk of many diseases, but there are other concerns. In a recent NY Times article, the lower health care quality and standards for obese patients is detailed.


Doctors tend to insist that patients address obesity issues prior to paying attention to other concerns. This can lead to missing more serious issues. Orthopedists often will refuse to perform knee and hip replacements on larger patients until they have lost weight. Even cosmetic surgeries are influenced by weight. A plastic surgeon we spoke with in N.C. tells us it is standard procedure for most in their industry to not perform procedures on anyone with a BMI over 25, fearing complications and possible malpractice claims. The screening actually begins when the potential client calls in for a consultation appointment, and the staff is instructed to address weight prior to scheduling. A caller with a higher BMI is instructed to address their weight prior to even being considered for procedures.

Many important medical devices aren’t designed to accommodate larger patients, like MRI, scales and scanners, so the best options may not be available for larger patients. Dosages of many pharmacological protocols aren’t formulated for heavier patients. Stories abound about patients having to be referred to a zoo for MRI’s, since equipment for humans isn’t capable of handling some larger people.

While may are concerned about the cost of getting fit, there are also substantial costs to being overweight. One fifth of America’s healthcare costs are from obesity related concerns, according the the Congressional Budget Office. This equates to around $200 billion. 450 million workdays are lost a year to obesity. at a cost of over $153 billion. Obesity adds a whopping $92, 235 to the lifetime health cost, per person. When getting fit costs substantially less than that, plus coming with multiple other benefits, it is physically and fiscally prudent to get in shape now.

Jim Harris