Are Weight-Loss Programs Covered By Health Insurance?

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Obesity has long been a problem in the US. It has intense implications for a person’s health and is itself considered a chronic condition. Losing weight can be very important and prevent other health issues and death. As such, the question of whether weight-loss programs are covered by health insurance makes sense.

The answer to this question is not one-size-fits-all. A lot depends on the type of insurance you have and the weight-loss program you want to try. However, the ACA has gone a long way towards making weight-loss treatments accessible.

Here’s what you need to know about whether weight-loss programs are covered by health insurance.

The ACA and obesity screening

Obesity has not always been treated as a medical condition. Many have viewed it as a lifestyle matter, disregarding the underlying factors that lead to obesity. The ACA aimed to put an end to the impact this misconception had on health coverage.

According to the ACA, most insurers have to pay for obesity screening and counseling. There is no exact definition of what this counseling must include and different insurers will pay for different things. Some will pay for one-on-one counseling, while others will cover programs offered by organizations like Weight Watchers.

Obesity screening and counseling goes a long way towards building awareness of the problem. However, what about those who want to go further and get weight-loss treatment?

Weight-loss treatments and programs

The ACA does not require that insurers pay for things like medication and surgery that promotes weight loss. As such, if your doctor recommends a treatment like bariatric surgery, you may have to pay for it out of pocket. However, medications such as Ozempic can help with weight loss, so it may be worth discussing this option with your doctor on how ozempic helps maintain weight loss after surgery.

That said, some insurers will pay for weight-loss treatments. Do not assume that you will not be covered simply because you are on a cheap plan. Your insurer may recognize that getting treatment for your weight loss will lower your risk for other illnesses they would ultimately have to pay for.

Call your insurer to find out whether they cover the treatment your doctor recommended. The worst they can say is no.

Fad diets and courses

What about fad diets or expensive courses? Your insurer is unlikely to pay for these. Unless your doctor specifically recommended one of these options, you should be careful before committing to them. Your doctor will have the best advice for you as to what route you should take. Often, while a new diet trend may help you lose weight quickly, the loss is not sustainable.

Unfortunately, your insurer will not pay for you to eat healthy foods. However, they may offer benefits like subsidized gym memberships that will help you lose weight.

The reality is that obesity is a condition in and of itself, while also putting you at risk of many other serious illnesses. Untreated, it can lead to irreversible damage and even death.

How does obesity affect life insurance?

Health insurance is not the only type of insurance that has implications for people with obesity. If you want to get term life insurance coverage to take care of your family when you die, your weight could increase your premiums. Since it puts you at a higher risk of death, obesity is taken into account in the insurer’s calculations.

Term life insurance is incredibly important for people who have dependents. If you die, you could leave your loved ones in a very difficult position if they have to account for the loss of your income. Life insurance will get them through a very difficult time.

While obesity may raise the price of your life insurance, it should not be a factor that prevents you from getting life insurance. Losing weight can help lower your premiums, but it is not essential to qualify for life insurance.

Obesity is a major problem in the US. Fortunately, it is better understood today, and seen as a health condition rather than a lifestyle one. Ask your insurer what they will pay for if you are looking for a treatment to help you lose weight.

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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