Severe obesity costs Medicaid $8 billion annually and rising
Nearly 11 percent or $8 billion of the cost to treat severe obesity was paid for by Medicaid in 2013, ranging from a low of $5 million in Wyoming to $1.3 billion in California. Research led by Y. Claire Wang, ScD, associate professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, predicts these costs will only grow as Medicaid eligibility is extended to more people following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. To slow down the rise in obesity-related healthcare costs, states should focus on identifying effective obesity prevention and treatment services, ensure access for those who are Medicaid-eligible, and include obesity in policy discussions around state Medicaid expansions. Findings are published in the November issue of the journal Health Affairs.