There are a Wide Range of Treatments for Obesity, but Many People Cannot Afford Care

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Amber Huett-Garcia at her high and low weight from 2008 to 2021.
Amber Huett-Garcia at her high and low weight from 2008 to 2021.

Amber Huett-Garcia is trying to drive global change for affordable treatment, care and support for individuals suffering from obesity.

A resident of the United States and born into a family suffering from generational obesity, she weighed 101 pounds by the time she was in kindergarten. As an adult, she lost 245 pounds and reduced her BMI from 69 to 24. She did it through a combination of treatments, including bariatric surgery, medication and mental health care.

While Huett-Garcia is lucky to have a comprehensive employer-based healthcare plan, she recognizes that many people in the United States do not. And for those who are obese, the cost of care can be enormous.

The cost of obesity

Obesity costs the US healthcare system nearly $173 billion a year, according to the latest report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Personal medical costs for people living with obesity are close to $1,500 more per year than those who do not suffer from the condition.

For people living with obesity and who are on Medicare, few treatments are covered. For example, Medicare has zero anti-obesity medication coverage. Moreover, roughly 40% of the US population lacks coverage for bariatric surgery for obesity, which has been proven most effective.

“Affordable healthcare is a human right,” Huett-Garcia said.

Amber Huett-Garcia taking part in the "Stop Weight Bias" campaign.
Amber Huett-Garcia taking part in the “Stop Weight Bias” campaign.

She has called for action to ensure that insurance plans pay for the treatment of a wider range of conditions, including obesity, by covering comprehensive science-based interventions. She has also asked that decision-makers within healthcare systems listen and amplify the voices of people with NCDs.

“The lives of people living with NCDs depend on it,” she concluded.

Read Amber Huett-Garcia’s full NCD Diary.
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Image Credits: Courtesy of NCD Alliance.

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