Jenny Bogard on Getting Payers to Cover Obesity Treatment and Prevention

Payers recognize the importance of obesity care and prevention, but can find it difficult to justify and investment in a program that might not show benefits for years to come, explained Jenny Bogard, MPH, director of healthcare strategies at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
Published Online: June 09, 2017


Payers recognize the importance of obesity care and prevention, but can find it difficult to justify and investment in a program that might not show benefits for years to come, explained Jenny Bogard, MPH, director of healthcare strategies at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Transcript
What is the biggest challenge with getting payers involved in obesity care and prevention?
The greatest challenge with getting payers involved in obesity care is that there is a lot of upfront costs with delayed benefits, and that's really hard to make that argument internally to put a lot of resources into a program where they may not see the benefits for years to come. Particularly when people may go to another insurance company or go to their competitor.

So we really work hard with our payers that we work with to ensure that we have this collective action, where we get a group of payers who really offer the same set of benefits. And we feel like that really will have an impact long term, and that's something that payers can get their minds around and work collaboratively together to design a program that works for everybody.

How do you approach payers and convince them that obesity care and prevention is in their best interest?
The way we approach it is it's a lot of relationship building and they recognize that obesity is a long-term critical public health challenge and that obesity is so directly tied to chronic conditions, which is a high-cost driver for our system. So the recognition and acknowledgement is there, what's lacking is the development of good, impactful programs.

So we work with insurers very closely on a daily basis, we reach out to them, and they come to us sometimes looking for additional content. We partner with national medical associations so we can develop expert content for their providers in network. We also develop resources for their families so they can engage their families in a much more meaningful way. So there's a lot of value to come to our program and to partner with us and also to offer the services to their members.

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