a woman in pink shirt and jeans standing on steps

I lost a 9-year-old kid. 

Not an actual kid, obviously, but the equivalent of one  — in pounds. (So skip the Amber alert, lest we give the whole county a collective coronary with its shrill emergency tone.)

As of April 7, I’ve lost 58 pounds over nine months. Fifty-eight pounds. A quick Google search told me I had been carrying around a typical fourth-grader. Or eight gallons of water. Or three of my car’s tires. 

Weekly injections of Mounjaro, one of the revolutionary weight-loss medications originally designed to treat diabetes, is changing not only my life  — but apparently the entire U.S. economy — one pound at a time.

I love how I look in the mirror. I don’t hide behind people in photos, allowing just my fat face to peek out from between them. It’s fun to shop for clothes nearly half the size I used to buy.  And my thighs no longer rub together when I walk, threatening to start a friction fire. 

Unlike many women who keep their effective weight-loss method a secret, perhaps embarrassed that they didn’t “earn” it through rigorous workouts and time-consuming diets, I’ve been telling anyone who asks about my Mounjaro makeover, “my skinny shots.”

I feel fantastic — physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, professionally. But not financially.

Because these medications — Mounjaro, Ozempic, Wegovy —  come at a price, a rather hefty one that increases with the dosage.

My health insurance policy, like most in this country, only covers these drugs if the user is diabetic, which I’m not. 

Since July, I’ve spent $280 to $550 per month on the medication and monthly office visits with nurse practitioner Erin Kane, owner of New You Health Clinic. She first submitted the prescription to a local pharmacy to try for coverage, but when my insurance rejected it, she turned to a compounding pharmacy she trusts to formulate the medication and then provides me with four pre-filled shots — one a week for the month.

I have 5 to 10 pounds left to lose to reach my target weight, then I can start a maintenance routine, stretching out the shots to one every two weeks, cutting my monthly cost in half.

And while I sing the praises of Mounjaro from the rooftop, I lament its prohibitive cost. I’ve been blessed to have an equally employed husband who has supported my weight-loss process since day one and has helped us bear the financial burden.

For me, it’s been worth every penny, but it pains me that this new tool is completely out of reach for millions of Americans struggling with their weight. The name brand versions of the medications can cost more than $1,000 per month without insurance coverage.

It’s simply not fair. And it’s not right, especially as I started reading in recent months about the benefits these medications are expected to have on the national and global economy. 

These weight-loss shots that are changing the world certainly haven’t saved me any money in the past nine months. 

But at least giant, multinational corporations, like airlines, that already juice as much money from us as they possibly can, are poised to save as much as $80 million a year in fuel costs as their passengers continue to drop weight.

It’s true. It’s maddening, but true. 

“A Jefferies Financial analyst used data from United Airlines and calculated that the company could save 27.6 million gallons of fuel per year, at a cost of $80 million, if the average passenger weighed 10 pounds less,” states an October 2023 article in Business Insider.

The collective 10-pound weight loss would translate to about 1,790 pounds per flight.

Sure, I’ve saved a few bucks on food over the past nine months, but I’ve also thrown out a heartbreaking amount of leftovers that had sat too long in the fridge after I wasn’t hungry enough to finish my meal.

But I’ve also spent money on new clothes, although, while my weight has been changing, I’ve intentionally limited my shopping to discount stores — ROSS, TJ Maxx and a few of those mysterious Asian websites whose clothes take 4 to 6 weeks to arrive, so by the time they get here, I’ve forgotten I ordered anything.

But my price for an airplane seat hasn’t gotten any cheaper. I’ve reduced their cargo load by 58 pounds — more than the weight of a suitcase for which they charge $30 or $40. So I’m saving the airline significant fuel costs by having spent my own hard-earned money on weight-loss injections. Where’s my benefit? Where’s my corporate bonus and stock options? 

And let’s talk about health insurance companies.

For decades, we’ve heard all about the prevalence and dangers of obesity: Heart disease, blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, fertility and pregnancy complications, chronic pain, increased risks during surgery, diabetes, sleep apnea, stress, depression, reduced work production, increased absenteeism, low quality of life – the list goes on. Not to mention the self-hatred, social stigma and silent judgment that overweight people have endured since the dawn of glossy magazines and string bikinis.

“One in three adults in the United States is considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” states an October 2023 article in the Daily Mail. “Worldwide, 41.5% of the population will be classed as overweight by the end of this year — up from 36.4% a decade ago.”

And yet, most U.S. insurance companies still refuse to cover Mounjaro or Ozempic for weight-loss. Diabetes, yes. Obesity, no. This seems counterintuitive, but then again, so is our nation’s entire health care system that elevates my blood pressure every time I consider its blatant inequality.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m in love with Mounjaro. I’m 58 pounds lighter and experienced no adverse side effects. I’m hugely happy and will always consider it money well spent. I feel like an “after” picture in an infomercial, but with no Photoshop or fine print at the bottom of the screen.

Last month, I ordered a second pair of size 10 jeans because I felt great in the first pair, and got a few compliments. A month later, on April 7, I bought a size 8 dress. 

These shots have changed my life.

But it pisses me off that hard-working people spend their hard-earned money on this life-changing improvement, while the rich corporations and their shareholders benefit from our expense. 

Trickle-down economics is fiction. Helping rich people makes them richer. And guess what? They don’t share, at least not until they’ve amassed enough money of their own to enable three generations of their entitled offspring to live useless lives of all-consuming excess. 

There’s a maddening imbalance in our nation’s health care system, tax structure and economy.

But that’s a story for another day. If you’ll excuse me, I should go find that 9-year-old kid.

Mandy Miles
Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.