Obesity is a terrible disease. It is a deadly disease. I dare anyone to argue with me that it is a disease. Here is the definition of disease from Webster’s:
“a condition of the living animal or plant body or one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms”
Yes, I would say obesity fits that definition QUITE WELL. Now we see that the state of Georgia has discontinued covering bariatric surgery for those with state insurance. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I cannot even wrap my head around the logic here. Georgia is not alone either. Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania have also decided to not cover bariatric surgery.
The reason Georgia is giving is that it is too expensive. I am thinking that someone from Georgia needs to head over to Missouri and talk to them about the cost of bariatric surgery compared to the cost of obesity related illnesses. Missouri did the same thing as Georgia but has since reinstated the coverage after seeing how much money was saved by doing the procedures. I think my 12-year-old could figure this one out!
Why is it so hard for so many to accept that obesity is a disease? Do insurance companies hesitate to cover treatment for diseases like diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.? Of course not! The ridiculous thing is, many of these are caused by obesity so why not treat the ROOT OF THE PROBLEM AND NOT THE SYMPTOMS?
I find it insane that a state can think paying for weight loss surgery costs more than paying for all of the treatments for the million other illnesses obesity creates. That issue aside, would we tell someone with heart disease to just forget about treating it because it is too expensive? (Well yes one day we may if we allow socialized medicine to happen in this country but that is a WHOLE DIFFERENT blog and I will not go there) No insurance company would say they will no longer cover surgery to fix the heart, or no longer cover surgery to treat a lung or liver disease.
Here is an interesting little factoid. The states who are currently not covering weight loss surgery for those with state insurance are all in the top 20 fattest states in America except for one.
Only Montana is not in the top 20 at 44th
I get emails daily from people who are telling me how badly they need this life-saving procedure and yet their insurance will not cover it. I also hear from people who lost relatives to obesity and that is just not acceptable to me. This is why I am so passionate about the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America. That organization grants life-saving surgery to people desperate for help.
Some will say things like, “sure it is a disease, but obese people did this to themselves.” REALLY NOW? Well with that logic, I guess then we do not cover any illness of the lungs or heart in a smoker past or present? And I suppose we do not cover the broken legs and arms in athletes, or twisted ankles in runners because after all, they chose to play those sports and did those things to themselves right?
The time for arguing about whether or not obesity is a disease and food addiction is a real addiction is over. There is enough data and research on both to make those two things non-issues. The time has come to make bariatric surgery a non-elective procedure. Dr. Jaime Ponce, President-elect of the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, (ASMBS) will be talking about this very thing on my radio show “Fit Living” in a few weeks. He said, “Bariatric surgery is a cost-effective treatment for morbid obesity and the comorbidities associated with it. There is documented evidence showing this: An analysis of a private payer database showed that the cost savings associated with bariatric surgery began accruing as early as 3 months after surgery, and downstream savings were estimated to offset the initial costs in 2 to 4 years.”
What a sad day to be a state employee in Georgia. I do not understand how they could even justify this with the facts in hand. My only hope is that more states will take a look at what happened in Missouri and continue to give their employees the coverage for weight loss surgery. Then some will say “but Erin, what about the people who have the surgery and do not follow the rules and continue the bad habits and gain their weight back?”
That will always happen. We cannot control how people behave. Who doesn’t know the person who was gifted with life saving heart surgery only to go back to smoking or unhealthy eating? Those things happen and are unfortunate.
My whole purpose in starting The Bariatric Guru LLC and in doing my radio show and the Bariatric Breakthrough Challenge conference series was to help educate and help weight loss surgery patients realize what a true blessing and gift they have been given by having their procedures. Yes I am all about personal responsibility and using your tool to the best of your ability. I am also determined to show the mainstream media and public that WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY IS NOT FOR LAZY PEOPLE OR PEOPLE WHO WANT THE EASY WAY OUT. This is a hard and forever lifestyle change if done properly and just like all state employees deserve coverage for heart, lung, and all other diseases considered “common”, they deserve the life-saving benefit of bariatric surgery.
If you are a Georgia state employee or the employee of one of the other states who have cut coverage, please comment and let me know how these decisions affected you. I urge any weight loss surgery patient in any of these states to contact your legislators and tell them your stories and tell them how weight loss surgery changed or even saved your life.
Look at these pictures and then try to tell me my weight loss surgery was a cosmetic thing. look at the girl sitting in the chair who had back problems, could barely walk around the block and was incredibly unhealthy and then look at the picture of the happy healthy woman crossing the finish line in a half-marathon and JUST TRY to tell me she took the easy way out and didn’t truly need this surgery.
WAKE UP GEORGIA! YOUR EMPLOYEES DESERVE BETTER!!