Will Defining Obesity as a Disease Impact Insurance Costs?

The American Medical Association now classifies and recognizes obesity as a disease - a move that may impact how obese patients are insured. The change is expected to effect the way providers manage care. Fox News reports:

Obesity is associated with diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers, and Kessel says these when it comes to insurers these conditions are often intertwined.

“For the purposed of medical management, the distinction will change, but it’s really so hard to separate them,” she says.

But doctors and their staff expect the new decision to change how their billing process and codes. Dr. Leena Khaitan, director, Bariatric Surgery Program at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, says weight loss surgery had been considered elective because obesity was not considered to be a disease but rather an effect of lifestyle.

“Because obesity wasn’t thought of as a disease, it wasn’t a reimbursable code,” Khaitan says. “For a doctor to talk to a patient about losing weight, they wouldn’t get reimbursed. Now we can make more of an impact from a preventative standpoint. Doctors would [in the past] focus on things they would get reimbursed for, and move onto the next.”

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