The AMA overturns 2009 ruling and recognizes obesity as a disease today
More residents are aware of their cholesterol levels than their Body Mass Index (BMI), according to the Michigan Dept. of Community Health (MDCH). Such ignorance cost the U.S. a whopping $344 billion in obesity-related health care costs annually, $200 billion of which could be prevented with increased education, awareness and treatment efforts detailed in a joint report issued by the United Health Foundation and the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention. Is obesity a social ill or a medical problem? The American Medical Association (AMA) ended the debate with its decision to recognize obesity for disability status. Its governing body, the House of Delegates, ruled against recognizing obesity in 2009 when the estimated health care costs associated with obesity hovered at $121 billion. Skyrocketing obesity-related health care costs and conclusive medical studies supported the reversal, which is expected to spur better reimbursement for treating overweight individuals and support better health outcomes. Doctors, meeting in Chicago for the AMA’s annual meeting, said such an endorsement will lead to greater investments and potentially health insurance coverage specifically for a diagnosis that someone is obese when there is a payment mechanism for evaluating and managing obesity, according to a Forbes post. Not everyone agrees with the ruling, which divided AMA members. Opponents worry that the decision will further encourage sedentary lifestyles and fatalistic behaviors. But the majority, including the nation’s largest healthcare providers, seems comfortable that the current reimbursement structure for obesity as a condition is adequate. Even the IRS recognizes medical costs for the treatment of obesity among its eligible deductions. Among those inevitable things in life, it appears that death and taxes remain. Scratch obesity off the list.