Coverage for Obesity Care is Only Fair

Posted 3/7/24

(NewsUSA) - Obesity is an increasingly significant health problem in the United States, especially for women. The disease affects 1 in 3 American women, including 57% of Black women and 44% of …

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Coverage for Obesity Care is Only Fair

Posted

(NewsUSA) - Obesity is an increasingly significant health problem in the United States, especially for women. The disease affects 1 in 3 American women, including 57% of Black women and 44% of Hispanic women.

Although obesity is a chronic, treatable condition, obesity care is not covered by health insurance like other chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. As a chronic disease, it’s only fair that people with obesity receive the same coverage as other chronic conditions.

EveryBODY Covered, a new campaign led by the Alliance for Women’s Health and Prevention (AWHP) in partnership with 15 other leading health organizations, is working to change this by empowering women to speak with their employers and elected officials about the need for comprehensive obesity care coverage.

Currently, less than half of employers cover or are considering covering the latest generation of anti-obesity medications. “Healthcare professionals need to be able to provide the full range of obesity care options for their patients, and patients need access to that care,” said Dr. Eliza Chin, Executive Director of the American Medical Women’s Association. “Obesity deserves the same level of coverage as any other chronic disease.”

The campaign argues that obesity is a women’s health issue. Citing data from the National Institutes of Health which shows that women with obesity are more likely to have other chronic diseases, including breast cancer, fertility, and maternal health challenges. Women with obesity also are more likely to face stigma in their professional and personal lives. In fact, women affected by obesity earn as much as 12% less than female peers not affected by obesity.

“Women’s health and obesity are linked,” says Millicent Gorham, CEO of AWHP, “If you care about maternal health, if you care about cancer prevention, if you care about heart disease, if you care about mental health—then you need to care about obesity.”

The EveryBODY Covered Campaign is empowering women to call for comprehensive obesity care coverage to ensure everyone can access the full range of treatment options. Comprehensive obesity care includes counseling, behavior modification, physical activity, anti-obesity medications, surgery, and nutrition services.

The campaign is advocating for comprehensive obesity care coverage across insurance types, including private health insurance, employer-sponsored health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. The campaign supports the passage of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA), a bipartisan bill that would provide Medicare coverage of obesity care options. In addition, the campaign hopes Medicaid will expand coverage of obesity care through state legislation. Just as care for other chronic conditions is covered, comprehensive obesity care should be covered too – it’s only fair.

Visit everybodycovered.org to learn more about the impact of obesity on women and get involved.

Support for the EveryBODY Covered campaign has been provided by Eli Lilly & Co.