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Hangry Hippocrite!: Obesity Surgery or Dietary Counseling? Your Insurance Decides.

August 1, 2011
The Easy Way Out?

I recently came across this article from January 2011 (I also just recently started this blog, so am making up for lost time…) that is, well, appalling. Surprise surprise, American healthcare never fails to shock and terrify. Here we go again:

In state where a third of the population is obese, TennCare won’t pay for the counseling services of a dietitian to help people lose weight, but it will cover bariatric surgeries once they get big enough to qualify.

Nearly 400 obese TennCare patients have undergone the surgery in the past five years at an average cost of $1,900 — significantly more than the $100 to $150 a dietitian would charge for an hour-long session.

TennCare’s decision to exclude dietitians could soon come under scrutiny from the federal government. New guidelines to be announced this spring will call for bolder preventive actions in the fight against obesity, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said in a report to Congress.

Uuuggghh. Now, what is Tenncare, you ask? Well, “TennCare is the State of Tennessee’s Medicaid program that provides health care for 1.2 million Tennesseans and operates with an annual budget of approximately 8 billion dollars…[and] provides health coverage for 1.2 million low-income children, pregnant women and disabled people.” Ah, of course! A Medicaid program…does this ring any bells? Maybe to my post a month or so ago about Arizona wanting to fine “fat” people on Medicaid

So, while this is clearly a very different issue than imposing fines on people who are not able to get the proper resources/education to build healthy lifestyles….wait a minute! Although there are no fines involved in this situation (in fact, many would say that having a fully paid-for surgery is indeed an incentive), THIS IS THE EXACT SAME PROBLEM! Again ignorance and lack of education/healthy lifestyle changes are being promoted and Medicaid is doing everything that it can to not help people positively impact their lives, but instead to find an alternate route that completely circumvents the problem. How exactly does it make sense to spend such absurd amounts of (taxpayer) money on surgery that is a) dangerous, b) only will help a select amount of people, and most importantly c) without lifestyle changes will not make a difference, instead of on a much lower-cost education program??  How is anything going to change without education?? THIS DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE!!!

Seriously, I can’t handle this. I need to go for a walk and let off some steam. I look forward to fresh air and your future comments.

(Image courtesy of Turbo Fitness Secrets, “The Web’s Most Trusted Resource for Fat Burning, Muscle Building, and Healthy Living”! Check it out!)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2011 8:12 pm

    So true – counseling should be required for surgery, not precluded by it! One of the many many ways we are messed up when it comes to weight…

  2. meganana permalink
    August 2, 2011 3:10 am

    I just got back from working at a summer camp where I had to sit through many painful stories about my fellow counselor’s wife’s recent gastric bypass. She now farts very loudly every time she stands up (and will continue to do so for the rest of her life) and suffers from something called “dump syndrome”. The way he explained it, her body can no longer digest food because she doesn’t really have a stomach now (and, therefore, no stomach acid…) so everything she puts into her body just comes right back out, and from more than one orifice…This is clearly not the best weight loss option. I’m pretty sure I’d rather go to counseling than deal with that crap. Pun intended.


  1. Health, Children, and the Government « Hangry Hippo

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