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Medicare Looking For Weight Loss Plans

Going from "one-size-fits-all" extreme to another, Medicare is looking for the best of weight loss programs and has considered shunning fad diets to focus on one of the more radical and dangerous solutions: Stomach bypass surgery. An advisory commission will take the first step in November when it considers the effectiveness of such surgery, which has soared in popularity over the past five years.

More than 100,000 morbidly obese people had the surgery in 2003, up from 25,000 in 1998, according to the American Society for Bariatric Surgery. Costing $30,000, the surgery is intended for people who are at least 100 pounds above their ideal body weight and who have failed at other attempts at weight loss.

Many insurance carriers have started to cover the procedure, finding it cheaper to pay for the surgery than long-term treatments of obesity-related health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

One major insurer, however, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, which serves 6 million people, will stop paying for it next year, because they believe the procedure is extremely risky and of questionable benefit to the patient.

Medicare has scheduled no other weight-loss treatments for review yet, but officials said they expect to get many requests from weight-loss programs, fitness centers and doctors.

I strongly caution, before you begin any kind of regimen, learning your nutritional type is absolutely essential if you want to optimize your health and weight in the most rapid, financially efficient and permanent manner.

Yahoo News July 20, 2004

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