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Medicare Obesity Counseling – it’s Free!

By Claire Thayer, March 5, 2015

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows alarming obesity trend rates among the elderly population within the United States.  Thirty-six percent of men aged 65-74 are considered obese, along with slightly over 44% of women in this same age bracket, as highlighted on the CDC’s FastStats for Older Persons’ Health web page:

These findings continue to trend upward from the data previously available from the National Center for Health Statistics that found more than one-third of older adults aged 65 and over were obese in 2007–2010. 

Consider that over the next thirty years, the number of U.S. older adults is expected to more than double, rising from 40.2 million to 88.5 million. Primary care providers are critically important in helping to reverse these trends. The Kaiser Family Foundation reminds us in an article published this week, Few Seniors Benefiting From Medicare Obesity Counseling, that the Affordable Care Act included a new Medicare benefit offering face-to-face weight-loss counseling in primary care doctors’ offices. Doctors are paid to provide the service, which is free to obese patients, with no co-pay.  Surprisingly, as reported in USA Today, a mere 1% of Medicare's 50 million beneficiaries have used the free counseling benefit.

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