Creating Access to Obesity Care: How the OAC is Making an Impact

OAC President/CEO Joe Nadglowski

National Obesity Care Week is this year, but the Obesity Action Coalition’s (OAC) fight to improve access to care for obesity has been constant for the last 10 years.

Four of the OAC’s major focuses during this fight are:

Making it okay to ask for help   

Unfortunately, too many of us who struggle with our weight think we are alone in this journey. That our struggle with obesity is a burden we have to bear solely by ourselves.  The OAC’s Your Weight Matters Campaign encourages individuals to engage their healthcare provider about their weight — and health is the vital reason for this effort. You do not have to be alone in this fight. The OAC is there for you, and your healthcare provider can and should be there for you as well.

Challenging healthcare providers to offer the necessary tools in a compassionate, dignified manner

While some healthcare providers have made an effort to better understand the complexity of obesity and how to care for those with it, others still haven’t.. Therefore, we have partnered with a wide variety of medical provider organizations to encourage a better understanding and build a more empathetic care system. National Obesity Care Week is a great example of this partnership, with more than 30 organizations joining with OAC in raising awareness of O=obesity care.

Educating our elected officials on the importance of obesity care 

The OAC was created to give a voice to those affected by obesity, and we take that role very seriously — having conducted thousands of legislative visits over the past 10 years to educate our elected officials on the needs of those with obesity.

In addition, we’ve helped create multiple important coalitions focused on advocacy. Three important ones are the Obesity Care Continuum, a coalition of the major obesity organizations, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act Coalition, a wide variety of organizations and companies focused on supporting the passage of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act and the Obesity Care Advocacy Network, a new coalition of not only obesity-focused organizations, but a wide variety of other organizations focused on improving access to care.

Fighting for access to insurance coverage

The lack of insurance coverage for obesity treatments is a major barrier when it comes to obesity care. Too often, someone walks into a doctor’s office to seek help for their obesity, and they have to be turned away because of lack of coverage for the treatment.

The OAC is fighting these barriers on numerous levels. By interacting with state employee and Medicaid programs, such as Medicare, healthcare exchanges, employers and individual insurers, this fight continues every day and is one of our organization’s highest priorities.

As Dr. Stegemann highlighted in a previous blog, the lack of coverage is “Wrong and has to stop!” I agree completely, and promise the OAC won’t rest until we’ve overcome this access problem.

Please support National Obesity Care Week this week and the OAC’s efforts year-round. Our efforts are empowered by our members and your voice can — and does — make a difference.

About the Author:
Joe Nadglowski is President and CEO of the OAC. A frequent speaker and author, Mr. Nadglowski has more than 20 years of experience working in patient advocacy and education and is a graduate of the University of Florida. Joe is also the Executive Director of the ASMBS Foundation, through a partnership between the OAC and the Foundation. Through this partnership, the OAC and ASMBS Foundation aim to increase awareness and education on obesity and its treatments through the annual “Walk from Obesity.”

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