On June 19th, the American Medical Association (AMA) declared that obesity is officially a disease. The AMA’s decision was controversial, to say the least. Their own Council on Science and Public Health had previously issued a report saying that obesity should not be considered a disease. The Council argued that body mass index (BMI), the measure for determining obesity, is a flawed and unreliable system. Nevertheless, the AMA decided to go ahead and label obesity as a disease.
Opponents of the AMA’s decision say that the financial implications will be negative for consumers. However, some doctors think that calling obesity a disease will actually have financial benefits for its sufferers.
Dr. Leena Khaitan told Fox Business that patients may gain insurance approval for weight loss surgery more easily. In addition, insurance companies now will have to pay more for a surgery, meaning that out of pocket costs for patients will go down.
Patients who would prefer to avoid surgery might receive better insurance coverage for nutrition counseling and exercise coverage, adds Khaitan.
Insurance premiums will rise now that obesity is considered a disease, warn critics. However, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff reminds readers that insurance companies already reject or raise premiums for applicants who are obese. Freedhoff believes that the AMA’s decision will not change how insurance companies charge obese customers.
Finally, Dr. Ann Rogers told Penn Live that she hopes the federal government will begin to require that obesity be treated by all of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage plans. Rogers also echoed Khaitan’s belief that insurance companies would offer better coverage for non-surgical treatments. Whether insurance companies provide better coverage or not, obesity medications can be obtained at excellent discounts with Discount Drug Network’s free prescription discount card.
While this is potentially great news for people who are suffering from obesity, it is important to remember that the AMA made their decision less than a month ago. As of now, it is too soon to know exactly will be the effects. Additionally, doctors warn patients not to think that their obesity can be cured by a wonder-drug or surgery. It is crucial to live a healthy lifestyle and take steps such as diet and exercise in order to prevent/minimize the nasty effects of obesity.