Pounds of Prevention Proposal for the Medicare Program

Cooking TogetherBenjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

In America today, helping older Americans lose a few pounds could save the Medicare program billions of dollars, according to an Emory University study published this month in the journal Health Affairs.

The researchers at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health estimated the savings to Medicare if obese or overweight, “prediabetic” adults aged 60 to 64 were enrolled in an evidence-based weight management program.

“We estimate that making the program available to a single cohort of eligible people could save Medicare $1.8 – $2.3 billion over the following ten years,” the researchers wrote. “Estimated savings would be even higher ($3.0 billion to $3.7 billion) if equally overweight people at risk of cardiovascular disease were also enrolled.”

Moreover, over the lifetime of this group of people Medicare could save between $7 billion and $15 billion depending on the number of people who participated and how broad the eligibility criteria were designed.

The researchers noted that two recent studies had estimated that lifetime Medicare spending is 15 to 35 percent higher among 65 year olds who are obese compared with normal weight people of the same age.

“Both previous experience and the current analysis strongly suggest that weight loss programs using evidence-based strategies could prove an effective tool for reducing chronic disease and slow the growth of Medicare spending,” the researchers concluded.

Jefferson’s Comprehensive Weight Management Program is one of the nation’s most successful long-term maintenance programs. Participants in the program are offered a number of options to guide and support their efforts to achieve and maintain a healthier weight, from short-term education classes to a medically monitored comprehensive weight-loss and maintenance program.

You can use this body mass index calculator to discover if your BMI falls in the normal, overweight or obese categories.

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