Do health insurance plans cover obesity prevention and treatment for my child?
Posted Sep 17 2009 10:34pm
Do health insurance plans cover weight management programs for children and adolescents? The short answer in the past was a resounding "No!". Now, as of this year, the tides seem to be changing somewhat, and not a moment too soon. Super news! Long-awaited health insurance coverage of obesity prevention and treatment is coming!
Two week ago, an article in Healthcare Finance News regarding health plans doing innovative things to combat obesity. Some featured health insurance carriers are BlueChoice Health Plan of South Carolina and BCBS of Michigan.
So, what does this Initiative involve? The benefits for eligible children include 4 visits with their primary care provider and 4 visits with a registered dietician every year -- the purpose is for these families to receive support regarding healthy lifestyles.
What companies are participating?
Health insurance organizations offering this benefit include Aetna, BCBS of North Carolina and Massachusetts, Wellpoint
Employers participating as customers of Aetna include Mars, Owens Corning, and Paychex
PepsiCo, the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association offer these benefits to their employees
What can I do if my child's insurance company is not listed as participating?
Contact the insurance carrier directly. Many are considering adding these benefits for their members and the more that they hear from you, members and concerned parents, the better and potentially the faster that coverage will be ensured.
While in contact with the carrier, ask what benefits you and your family may be eligible for. Many now include gym membership discounts and weight loss companies (just be cautious and choosy -- there are many out there!). Key words to use while asking about information are weight management, health and fitness, dietician / nutritionist visits, and obesity prevention.
Contact your employer and encourage them to become one of the participating companies in the Initiative.
Do talk to your child's doctor -- much can still be done in conjunction with your child's primary care physician to help your child. The Alliance website provides great resources and information from parenting tips to prevent obesity to fitness for kids and teens to healthy eating tips.
And one more detail... the Alliance has designated this month of September as Go Healthy month! You and your tween or teen check out the EmpowerME website for more information.