Financial Costs Associated with the Treatment of Obesity [Interview][Transcript]

Dr_Glenn_Rich_Obesity_TreatmentGuest: Dr. Glenn Rich
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Dr. Glenn Rich is certified as a Diplomate by the American Board of Obesity Medicine. Dr. Rich has established the Weight Control Center at Fairfield County Medical Group. This center takes a multidisciplinary approach to managing patients with obesity, while providing evidence-based compassionate care.

Segment overview: Dr. Glenn Rich, MD, discusses the financial issues associated with the treatment of obesity.

Transcripiton
Health Professional Radio – Treatment of Obesity

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. In 2013 the American Medical Association recognized obesity as a disease which affects approximately 33% of the United States population. Scientific studies demonstrates some very strong genetic and environmental aspects that go along with the obesity, well some call it an epidemic. Our guest in studio today is returning to speak with us Dr. Glenn Rich, Endocrinologist, recently certified as a Diplomat by the American Board of Obesity Medicine and he’s here today to talk with us about the financial aspect of living with and treating obesity. Welcome to Health Professional Radio Dr. Rich.

Dr. Glenn Rich: Thank you so much Neal.

N: When it comes to obesity, it’s being called an epidemic, 33% of our population is affected by obesity and then some of the other problems associated – hypertension, heart disease, sleep apnea, cirrhosis even infertility all associated with obesity. What are some of the causes associated with obesity above and beyond just the mental stress and many folks are on anti-depressants for some of the mental aspects of obesity?

R: As you’ve mentioned Neal these are main diseases that obesity leads to and you just named a handful of diseases but things like cancers prior to the number one risk factor that’s reversible in terms for development of cancer, it develops arthritis, there’s more data to work with patients who are overweight. So it’s a huge strain in the system both in terms of the cost, the cost of treating so many overweight exceeds that of treating a normal weight individual and the unhealthy way of patients have come along with many of these other cost in terms of treatment that are required for the diseases. Yet allowing this…for weight management out, many of the drugs out there or the surgeries are often very expensive.

N: The American Medical Association recognized obesity as a disease. Now do they recognize it as a disease in 2013 or did they recognize it as a disease in 2013 that affected so much of the population? Had it been considered disease before that or just something that didn’t affect the population on such a large scale?

R: I think before 2013 while many people considered it a disease however do not have that designation. And many people at that point were still with argument that this was more of a life choice rather than a disease and I think the scientific evidence has really come out so strong in this that it’s a medical condition and mental disease like any other disease and I think they’re able to finally make that diagnosis as a medical illness or medical disease I think that will help in terms of getting insurers to pay for medications and pay for treatment although it’s still often a challenge. Workplace combinations and sometimes people in need in terms of larger chairs, larger desks that many places don’t offer in terms of just everyday living and it’s with medications for diseases for treatment for all the complications, it does become a very financially burdensome proposition. Most medications…these days except for generic medications are over extraordinarily expensive and many patients pay who have weight issues are on multiple medications have multiple diseases. So if you don’t have insurance the co-pays will add up for many of these patients.

N: Do you find that folks that are considered obese are coming in to your practice and talking about some of the stressors associated with air travel or as you say employment, things of that nature? How does the Weight Control Center there at Fairfax address some of these mental issues when the patients begin to speak of them?

R: Many patients do complain in the past many of their life struggles in terms of traveling places and in terms of sort of biases out there against people are overweight. There’s a huge problem I think with patients who also being underemployed because I think even in the workplace people cannot to get a good job the same way other people get, so this is a huge amount of sort of underemployment and biases against these patients. So I do speak with patients about what you can do, there are many societies out there that are working in terms of the Obesity Society, The American Society to try to deeply see these type of biases for patients. There’s some employers who will provide larger furniture, stuff like that and that’s not only the case right now. So it does make it more challenging for many of these patients to be able to do that.

N: I have noticed, not on a large scale, not myself, that’s not to say that it doesn’t exist, but changes being made in airline, passenger, accommodations, also in some taxi situations in some cities there’s been a talk of widening the interiors to accommodate those customers and patrons who may be obese. And actually some airlines are rumored, now I’m not sure myself but some I’ve heard are actually charging more based on weight, citing fuel cost and things of that nature, is that anything that you have heard from some of your patients?

R: I have not heard that much from my patients, although just flying an airplanes weekend an overweight individual could find it challenging to sit in one of the normal chairs that they have inside the plane. So it does make it challenging and also there are some employers who charge more cost for their own self-insurance stuff for patients who are above the ideal or high BMI. So there is stuff that may sort of more expensive for any patients who have weight issues in terms of costs. I have not heard about the airlines charging more than…(Crosstalk)…they are.

N: As we wrap up this segment Dr. Rich, I’d like to ask you about some of the financial aspects associated with obesity when you’re trying to maintain a household when you’re not the only one who’s considered obese. You mentioned in another segment, genetic aspects, children being obese because the parents have been obese and the siblings are obese, even twins who are born or separated and raised in different environments, genetically can be affected by obesity. What about trying to maintain a household and reverse your own habits while trying to instill good eating habits on your family?

R: I agree. I mean what I try to recommend and instill to my patients is sort of healthy life choices in terms of healthy eating, which means a lot more fresh fruits and a lot more vegetables. You need clearly are a lot more extensive than getting the processed foods in the supermarket easy to cook. A lot of patients in terms of time commitments find it easy for them to pick up a non-healthy, inexpensive meal rather than a more healthy food in terms of more, as I said more I suppose and more Mediterranean sort of low-carb diet and that tends to be a lot more expensive for individuals. Also I think, as I mentioned also medical costs and co-pays and stuff of these individuals are clearly higher than they are for a family that don’t have the weight issues. So all those things do play into this and this is a very challenging area and had been moved to the obesity field so to speak, I have found this much more challenging both in the medical part of it, in terms of the psychosocial part of it and in terms of financial part with patients and I found that any other field of medicine that are done to date.

N: Now let our listeners know where they can go and get more information about you, the Weight Control Center and Fairfield County Medical Group.

R: Well we’re located in Trumbull Connecticut and right now we’re in the process of redoing our website to get it up to date information about our weight program on the website. So it should be up and running within a couple of weeks and our website is www.fairfieldcountymedical.com and there should be in a couple of weeks, there’s a lot of information on the website for that.

N: Alright, thank you so much. You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. We’ve been in studio talking with Dr. Glenn Rich, board certified Endocrinologist, recently certified as a Diplomat by the American Board of Obesity Medicine and he’s been in studio with us talking about some of the financial issues that are associated with living a lifestyle of obesity and in treating obesity. It’s been great having you here with us today Dr. Rich.

R: Thank you so much Neal.

N: Thank you. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.