Medicaid to Help with Weight Loss Management


By Aimee Burnett

Burley, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) More than 62 percent of adults in Idaho are either obese or overweight.

That's according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And, that growing trend is hitting Americans in their pocketbooks.

Annual medical costs for people who are obese are roughly $1,400 higher than those of normal weight according to the CDC.

But, a new program at Cassia Regional Medical Center in Burley is taking aim at the big problem.

"In the U.S we have an obesity epidemic, so that is a particular focus for us," describes Abby Gustaveson, Clinical Supervisor, Cassia Regional Medical Center.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, insurance coverage for weight management was limited. It was something most people had to pay out of pocket for, but that's all changing.

"Now Medicaid is actually going to help folks out with that. They'll be able to receive all sorts of counseling for weight loss and if they're underweight and they're having a hard time maintaining weight, say if they've gone through cancer, we can help with that and they'll be covered," said Gustaveson.

Weight loss management counseling will begin in June and along with that the hospital will also be offering free community benefit classes each month.

"We'll do healthy nutrition during pregnancy and we'll also do heart–healthy nutrition and in August will have a cooking class," said Gustaveson.

Obesity can lead to hypertension, cardiac problems, and diabetes.

More than thirty–percent of Idaho children were classified as obese in 2009, which has led to an increased number of children developing diabetes.

"In the early 2000's we never really saw teenagers or young children with Type 2, but now we're seeing more and more cases,” said Gustaveson.

With the focus shifting to prevention, the hospital is launching the Way to Health Management class.

It's a six month class that focuses on making lifestyle changes, emphasizing nutrition, exercise, and behavior.

"We're working on giving people the tools they need in order to make it work," said Tennille Houston, Clinical Dietician Specialist, Cassia Regional Medical Center.

Tools for a lifetime of change.

There are no age requirements for the free monthly classes and you don't need a doctor's referral.

Each class will last about two hours.

The hospital is also offering a variety of other classes including diabetes prevention.

Call the hospital at 677-6288 for more information.