Thursday, September 20, 2012

The value of medical and pharmaceutical interventions for reducing obesity

Abstract:This paper attempts to quantify the social, private, and public-finance values of reducing obesity through pharmaceutical and medical interventions. We find that the total social value of bariatric surgery is large for treated patients, with incremental social cost-effectiveness ratios typically under $10,000 per life-year saved. On the other hand, pharmaceutical interventions against obesity yield much less social value with incremental social cost-effectiveness ratios around $50,000. Our approach accounts for: competing risks to life expectancy; health care costs; and a variety of non-medical economic consequences (pensions, disability insurance, taxes, and earnings), which account for 20% of the total social cost of these treatments. On balance, bariatric surgery generates substantial private value for those treated, in the form of health and other economic consequences. The net public fiscal effects are modest, primarily because the size of the population eligible for treatment is small. The net social effect is large once improvements in life expectancy are taken into account.

a Université du Québec à Montréal & RAND, Canada 
b University of Southern California and RAND, United States 
c Harvard University, United States 
d RAND Corporation, United States
Volume 31, Issue 4, July 2012, Pages 630–643
Keywords: Obesity; Health spending; Ageing; Microsimulation

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