Healthcare Reform for those Affected by Obesity

When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or more commonly known as “Obamacare” was signed into law in 2010, many in the obesity community were hopeful that Obamacare would finally open the door to better patient care for the millions of Americans affected by obesity. Patients would no longer be rejected for health insurance coverage because of their weight or pay thousands of dollars for additional coverage to treat their obesity.

These hopes were based on the belief that Obamacare would provide wide coverage for those with chronic disease like diabetes and heart disease. Sadly, people affected by obesity are not treated the same as those with diabetes or heart disease. Yes, these people now have health insurance coverage, but their plan will often deny payment for any type of weight-loss treatment because health plans continue to see obesity as a lack of self-control.

The OAC helped create the Healthcare Reform Principles to call out lawmakers in Congress to make sure they don’t pass any kind of healthcare reform that ignores those affected by obesity. These principles ask legislators to make sure these individuals; have access to counseling, obesity drugs and bariatric surgery; are protected against unfair patient cost-sharing; and are treated the same as any other person suffering from a chronic disease.

Following is a summary of the OCC Healthcare Reform Principles

Obesity Care Continuum True Healthcare Reform Must:

    • Recognize that obesity is a chronic disease.
    • Ensure that patients can access all kinds of obesity treatment like counseling, drugs and surgery
    • Ensure that those with obesity are not denied coverage or charged more for their treatment than those with other types of chronic disease.
    • Ensure that health plans cannot place unnecessary hurdles in the way of people seeking treatment for their obesity. If these prior authorization programs are for sound medical reasons, they still must be done as quickly and efficiently as possible so patient care is not delayed.
    • Ensure that federal and state governments are making sure that health plans are providing coverage for Obamacare-mandated obesity screening and counseling services
    • Ensure patient access to current and new obesity treatments
    • Protect employees from employer offered health or wellness programs that discriminate against employees with obesity.

If you are an OAC member and would like to share the OCC’s Healthcare Reform Principles with your legislators on Capitol Hill, please contact the OAC at info@obesityaction.org  and we will help you reach out to your Senators and Representative within your state.

About the Obesity Care Continuum:

The leading obesity advocate groups founded the Obesity Care Continuum (OCC) in 2010 to better influence the healthcare reform debate and its impact on those affected by overweight and obesity. Currently, the OCC is composed of the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), the Obesity Society (TOS), the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), and the Obesity Medicine Association (OMA). With a combined membership of more than 125,000 patient and healthcare professional advocates, the OCC covers the full scope of care from nutrition, exercise and weight management through pharmacotherapy to device and bariatric surgery. Members of the OCC also challenge weight bias and stigma-oriented policies – whenever and wherever they occur.



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