Obesity – Is it Contributing to the Rising Costs of Healthcare?

Most of us have heard about the obesity epidemic in the United States but haven’t heard the alarming statistics. The fact is that 31 percent of our population is overweight as opposed to 15 percent only twenty years ago. This problem contributes to catastrophic diseases like heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes, and even cancer. Our children are now so overweight that 27 percent are rejected for the military and one general claims we are getting too fat to defend ourselves. What effect does this have on our cost of healthcare? This trend has devastating effects on our health, creating skyrocketing healthcare costs and draining our productivity.

Let’s look at the health effects. For example, according to The National Cancer Institute, 25 to 30 percent of all major cancers can be linked to obesity. The American Heart Association states, “When people eat too many calories, or too much saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, their blood cholesterol levels often rise. That raises their risk of heart disease.” The list of other possible health consequence of obesity also includes diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, acid reflux, gout, and others. Some researchers believe obesity may also be linked to neurological disorders, asthma, and risky pregnancies.

In addition, obese individuals are resorting to more drastic measures with elective surgeries like stomach bands or gastric bypass, which carry their own risks of infection, hemorrhage, and hernias. Between 1993 and 2003 the number of these surgeries performed rose 600 percent with an average cost of $30,000 each.

No wonder medical insurance costs are 3 times higher than they were in 1990 when 27 percent of this increase is due to obesity. Obese patients require more medications, a 77 percent higher expense than other patients, and have 36 percent higher treatment costs as well. The total healthcare cost of obesity has exploded just in the last 10 years.

Let’s look at the effects on small business. The obesity epidemic has not only increased the cost of health insurance for our nation’s employers, it has also been a drain on our productivity. Obese workers are estimated to cost companies more because these workers take longer to complete some tasks and they are unable to lift common workplace objects like computer monitors. In addition, on average they miss more days of work and need larger payments due to workmen’s compensation claims.

Right now the CDC says 300,000 annual deaths are attributed to obesity but the number could be much higher. Solving our national epidemic of obesity will not be easy but we can no longer afford to ignore the fact that it has a tremendous cost to all of us. The devastating effect on our health, resulting in rising costs of healthcare and damage to our national productivity are both compelling reasons for us to change our lifestyle before it’s too late. If we don’t, the affects on our families and economy will be devastating and will jeopardize our fundamental way of life.

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Texas Health Insurance: Children Win In The War Over Healthcare

Texas has the lowest percentage of residents protected by health insurance in the entire country. Only one in four have any form of Texas health insurance at all. Media coverage has been scant regarding the future of more than half a million Americans who have been through bankruptcy court, largely due to medical bills. So, what will the future look like for Texas?

Although the rest of the industrialized world has left “for-profit” health insurance behind, every Texas Republican in the U.S. Congress voted no on the healthcare reform that could protect the vast majority of Texans with access to medical care.

Nevertheless, children in Texas have just gained coverage under their parents’ Texas insurance plans until their 26th birthday. Those in the next generation who suffer from pre-existing conditions like asthma finally won the right to healthcare when insurers were barred from refusing to cover these children.

If you get health insurance quotes in Texas right now, you can protect your children under your plan regardless of any pre-existing condition they may have. Fewer people are finding health insurance in Texas through employment now, but you can keep your young adult children on your own plan until their 26th birthday.

Health Insurance In Texas Has More For Adults

Even adults without growing families got something when healthcare reform kicked in this fall. Insurers can no longer limit the amount of coverage you receive over a lifetime. If you got a new plan after healthcare reform passed, your insurer cannot charge you higher out-of-network rates for emergency medical treatment, either.

Because too many people were not getting regular preventive care, like cancer screenings and vaccinations, insurers are now required to cover recommended preventive care without any co-pay charges. The catch is that you have to get a new plan after the passage of healthcare.

If you are thinking about looking into new plans for the extra coverage, you may see higher premiums when you run health insurance quotes in Texas now. Weigh that against what it would cost you to pay for preventive care out of your own pocket before you make a decision. Most importantly, do not cancel your old policy until your new Texas health insurance is effective. Adults with pre-existing conditions will not be guaranteed coverage until 2014!

Can The U.S. Afford Health Insurance For Texas?

If you were part of the middle class in 2000 earning between $50,000 and $75,000, you gave the same share of your income to the IRS as the people who made more than $87 million. Tax breaks for the wealthiest in the country just increased again in 2007.

In countries in Europe, residents may pay taxes as high as 50 percent of their income, but they are guaranteed free healthcare and a college education, including books. The people of Denmark were singled out in a Frontline documentary because more people there reported they were happy with state of their lives than people in any other country. Danes pay some of the highest taxes in the world, but they enjoy the security they feel and trust in their future.

In the U.S., states like Texas are waging war over healthcare, including expanding Medicaid to help people under 65 who are struggling with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty line. With the recession, Medicaid enrollment surged and that spending rose at the highest rate in eight years, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

What Is The Future Of Texas Health Insurance Plans?

New requirements that will cover more adults in Texas are scheduled to kick in by 2014, such as the Texas health insurance state exchange. The idea there was to offer more citizens coverage similar to what those in Congress already enjoy. The federal government will provide the initial funding, but states like Texas will eventually have to maintain their exchanges.

After gaining ground in the November 2010 election, Texas Republicans proposed to drop out of the federal Medicaid program. What will happen to the 3.6 million children, people with disabilities and impoverished Texans now enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP?

This battle goes far beyond the state of Texas having to spend money to protect citizens with health insurance in Texas. Why would Republican state legislators try to deny Texans billions in federal tax dollars?

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