Obesity and Health-Care Costs
For quite some time, I thought the "Barbara!" at the bottom of posts on Time's Curious Capitalist blog were Justin Fox exhorting his colleague Barbara Kivat to weigh in. Not true! It's Barbara Kivat noting that she, and not Fox, wrote the post. Good to know. And this information in this post Barbara wrote, comparing the rise in health expenditures from 2001 to 2006 for for people in different weight groups, is also very good to know. But it needs a graph:
That data, which comes from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, looks a bit more straightforward than it necessarily is. You're not just seeing sicker individuals in there. You're also seeing the financial incentives of overtreatment, the advance of medical technology, a lot of wasteful interventions, a system that overspends for every unit of care purchased, and so on and so forth. You're also seeing demographic correlations: Obesity is a particular problem among poor and minority communities, both of whom tend to be sicker.
But for all those caveats, you're also seeing sicker individuals in there. This is, after all, what the health-care system was built so to do: Find sick people and do expensive stuff to make them less sick. Which is a good reminder that not all of the health-care spending's problems can be solved by changing the ways hospitals do business. Some of them will have to be solved by making us less sick. Go here for more on that.
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