Forward Roll

Signs of Progress in Access to Obesity Care

Encouraging news about progress in access to evidence-based obesity care came yesterday in reports from the summer meeting of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators. NCOIL resolved that state legislatures should provide for “coverage of the full range of obesity treatments.” The resolution began by saying:

NCOIL urges the 50 State Legislatures, health departments and other state agencies and institutions to make the prevention and treatment of obesity a high priority and to work to ameliorate obesity-related problems, such as worker productivity and absenteeism, as well as medically related costs, while improving the health and wellness of all persons.

Members of the Obesity Care Continuum, including the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) and the Obesity Society (TOS), worked behind the scenes to support this move because much of the decision-making about access to care is happening on a state-by-state basis.

OAC CEO Joe Nadglowski was quick to recognize the importance of NCOIL’s action:

The NCOIL recognition of obesity as a disease that needs to be both prevented and treated is another important step as their members are the key state legislators who regulate insurance. Our hope is that the resolution will help us continue to build the drum beat for improved coverage of obesity services in state regulated insurance plans such as the state exchanges, state employee plans and Medicaid.

TOS President Nikhil Dhurandhar offered his organization’s praise for this action:

The Obesity Society is pleased to see progress toward broad recognition of the need for improved access to evidence-based obesity care. With this resolution, the NCOIL has demonstrated a commitment to supporting coverage for much needed obesity-related care.

Obesity is a chronic disease that gets worse without evidence-based care. Today, many — if not most — people who seek medical care for obesity run into arbitrary and stigmatizing barriers to accessing that care.

At NCOIL, some of the nation’s top experts on regulating health insurance are taking the lead to solve this problem. We owe them our thanks and support.

Click here to read more about NCOIL.

Forward Roll, photograph © Astrid Photography / flickr

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.


July 21, 2015

6 Responses to “Signs of Progress in Access to Obesity Care”

  1. July 22, 2015 at 4:26 pm, Dr. Robert Chastanet said:

    Legislators need to know that bariatric surgery especially the gastric bypass is excellent at treating diabetes. It has been compared to conventional non surgery medical treatments and found to be more effective in multiple studies. The endocrinologists are resistant to hearing this, but long term data is now available. It can even result in complete remission. This can save lots of money for patients and insurers especially if one computes the cost of long term complications that are routinely seen with diabetes. The mortality rate of modern laparoscopic bariatric surgery is equivalent or less than having one’s gallbladder removed. Many primary care physicians are not aware of this.

    • July 22, 2015 at 7:00 pm, Ted said:

      You are making some excellent points, Dr. Chastanet. I think we’re seeing some progress, particularly in the CTAF recognizing the benefits of surgery in people with diabetes and BMI 30-35. Thanks for taking time to comment.

  2. July 23, 2015 at 12:58 pm, Allen Browne said:

    Sounds very good. Where do the kids fall in this. Is there any specific mention?

    I had to speak for them.

    • July 23, 2015 at 1:57 pm, Ted said:

      Important question, Allen. AAP is starting to advocate for access to care for kids living with obesity, but much more work is needed.

  3. August 01, 2015 at 10:35 am, Melissa said:

    What about treatment for those have been a sufferer of a WLS complication and now can’t get coverage to get it fixed due to insurances still classifying the surgical treatments as bariatric and refusing to cover the procedure? I was obese and has a WLS in order to get my life back. Now with the complications and everything, I’d rather be obese then be living my life this way without any type of coverage to get help from the pain and complications I suffer from constantly.

    • August 01, 2015 at 3:29 pm, Ted said:

      Melissa, thank you for sharing your experience and for the reminder that, despite some progress, the problems that remain are significant and unconscionable. Under the Affordable Care Act, the excuse of pre-existing conditions is supposed to be gone. A “health plan” should not be able to get away with denying coverage for care from surgical complications, but I know that they try and they wear people down. I am sorry for the problems you are facing. It’s just not right. If you care to share more of your story, don’t hesitate to reach out to me on email. The Obesity Action Coalition exists to advocate for fixing problems like yours. Please consider joining.