By Tom Colin, CQ Researcher Managing Editor
July 29, 2009
It occurs to me that when you’ve been in the news biz as long as I have (don’t ask, and I won’t tell) there is one phrase in French that’s indispensable because it sums up so much of what we do: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” – “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Take the just-released report on the link between obesity and soaring health-care costs. Among its mind-blowing findings:
*Americans who are 30 or more pounds over healthy weight cost the country an estimated $147 billion in weight-related medical bills in 2008;Indeed, as CQ Researcher health-care specialist Marcia Clemmitt reported last year in “Heart Health” (Sept. 12, 2008):
*Obesity accounts for 9.1% of all medical spending, up from 6.5% in 1998;
*Overall, an obese patient has $4,871 in medical bills a year compared with $3,442 for a patient at a healthy weight.
*About 34% of adults—more than 72 million Americans – were obese in 2006.
With obesity rates rising steeply, waves of high-cost heart-disease patients will drive health-system costs sky-high over the next few decades, according to David Herrington, a professor of internal medicine at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC. High costs of caring for the first wave, made up of baby boomers, will begin hitting the system in the next few years. Among boomers, the number of heart-disease patients is "astronomically large," said Herrington.Which brings us back to “Plus ça change”….., because that’s pretty much what we have reported in several other previous CQ Researcher reports, including:
The second wave will hit around 2030, as baby boomers' children, to date the most obese generation the United States has seen, begins aging into heart disease and other obesity-related chronic ills. At that point, "the lid is going to blow off vascular diseases, and it could bankrupt society," according to William Boden, a professor of medicine and public health at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
“Rising Health Costs” (Marcia Clemmitt), April 7, 2006; and “Obesity Epidemic” (Alan Greenblatt), Jan. 31, 2003.
We’ll have the latest on rising health costs soon, in Marcia's forthcoming report on “Health Care Reform,” August 28.