Take Cover

Covering Obesity in Health Plans?

Health Insurance CoveragePresenting new data at ObesityWeek 2015, Obesity Action Coalition Chairman Ted Kyle said Wednesday that roughly three-quarters of consumers report their health plans are not covering obesity care. He told Endocrinology Advisor:

These findings are a wake-up call because without coverage for evidence-based obesity treatment, people are delaying medical care until they have complications that are quite resistant and costly to treat: advanced type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and degenerative joint disease, just to name a few. So, it’s not a question of whether health plans will pay for the medical costs of obesity. Right now, we are paying for treating it in a very advanced form, with all of its complications.

Even when their employers have implemented wellness programs that target them for financial penalties based on their BMI, less than half of consumers report having coverage for the full range of obesity treatment, such as anti-obesity medications (41%) or bariatric surgery (32%). Commenting on this finding, co-author Fatima Cody Stanford said:

Frankly I find it appalling that employers are increasingly willing to impose financial penalties on employees based on their BMI, but they remain unwilling to provide coverage in their health plans for evidence-based obesity care.

These findings come as more than 35 professional and consumer organizations are joining together in National Obesity Care Week to speak out on the importance of evidence-based medical care for obesity. Even the U.S. Surgeon General popped up on Twitter Wednesday to draw attention to the subject.

It is indeed time to change the way we care for people living with obesity.

Click here to read more from Endocrinology Advisor, here for Kyle’s presentation at ObesityWeek, and here for more about National Obesity Care Week.

Take Cover, photograph © Spyros Papaspyropoulos / flickr

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November 5, 2015