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Health care reform will save the U.S. $250 billion per year says Institute of Medicine

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

No one should die in America for lack of health insurance. Yet so many people do – one every thirty minutes.

We know we have to change this. It’s one of the great moral issues our country faces. Yet, there are those who say, we can’t afford to cover everyone. I can’t fathom that argument. I believe that all deserve the right to life-saving treatment.

So I was happy to learn that we will soon have an economic argument as well as a moral argument to support making health care available to all.

The Institute of Medicine is about to release a study that reportedly found that, some years after reform is instituted, we  may save up to $250 billion per year over what we’d pay if we did nothing.

That gives us every reason to reform health care and no excuses not to. The moral imperative is obvious, at least to me, as a doctor who has treated both the very poor and the very wealthy. The economic argument should counter those who want to do less or nothing at all.

To save lives (and even, we now learn, to save money), it’s time to provide no loopholes, no fine print, real, affordable health care coverage for all.

– Yvonne  S. Thornton, MD, MPH

UPDATE: The above figures, showing that one person dies every 30 minutes due to lack of health insurance, are from The Institute of Medicine statistics of 2002. A new study, just released today by Harvard Medical School researchers, shows that it’s even worse than that: today, one person dies every 12 minutes due to lack of health insurance.

More media attention for the study

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Forbes reports on my study, showing that obese pregnant women should limit weight gain as does Medline.

Other media outlets giving the study prominent coverage are United Press International, Yahoo News, The Baltimore Sun, US News and World Report, and even the Times of India.

– Yvonne S. Thornton

My study on obesity and pregnancy in the news

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

I’m pleased to see that the media is getting the word out: obese pregnant women should be eating healthier diets and limiting their weight gain.

In the past few days, I’ve been interviewed by a number of news organizations about the study. You can see some of the reports at the following links:


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Science Daily

The Los Angeles Times

and Health Day

– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH

Study’s author concerned that new guidelines for pregnant obese women don’t go far enough

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

You may have read the headlines last week that The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is changing its guidelines for obese pregnant women. Instead of recommending that women who are obese gain at least 15 pounds during pregnancy, the IOM now recommends a weight gain of 11 to 20 pounds.

It’s a start. But, as the lead researcher of a new study of obese women, pregnancy and weight gain, I’m concerned that obese women are being told to gain any weight.

My study, which is being published today in the Journal of the National Medical Association, found that obese pregnant women who followed a well-balanced diet and gained little or no weight had maternal-fetal outcomes that were equal to or better than those who gained substantial weight.

As a specialist in high-risk pregnancies who has delivered more than 5,500 babies over a 35-year career and supervised the delivery of 12,000 more, I wasn’t surprised by the findings of our study. I know that those extra pounds mean extra risks for both mother and baby. Obesity greatly increases the chance of developing complications in pregnancy such as preeclampsia, stillbirth, and blood clots, among others.

Twenty-three of the more than 200 obese women in our study lost weight. The average weight gained was just 11 pounds. And yet, these women and their babies were at least as healthy as those who put on substantial pounds. There were fewer babies weighing 10 pounds or more, fewer cesareans, and the mothers were less likely to develop gestational diabetes.

You can read more about the study, here.

So, if you’re carrying significant extra weight, forget the old adage about eating for two. Believe it or not, for a pregnant woman of normal weight, only an additional 300 calories per day is needed during her pregnancy – the equivalent to a quart of skimmed milk per day.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH