This week the American Medical Association voted to recognize obesity as a disease which is going to bring about changes for doctors and patients alike. Since obesity has increase in Americans at a very alarming rates such as doubling in adults and tripling in children in the past twenty years, steps are being taken to categorize obesity as a disease to help doctors be able to treat the patients better. Of course this could have an impact on insurance companies but so far no insurance provider has shown any concern.
Most insurance providers have already been aware of issues with obesity and the rates of increase should not be a significant surprise to those in health and insurance industries. Obesity was already recognized as a major health issue with long term impacts and health consequences for some time now. Usually when a patient visits a doctor most of the time doctors do test for issues caused by obesity and that is not going to change most insurances did cover most costs associated with these issues.
Obesity has traditionally been associated with many major diseases such heart disease, diabetes and some cancers and most of these issues were handled in the past and they will be in the future. So the only change is really the classification of the obesity most issues related will remain attached and will be treated and covered as before. However, for situations where patients or doctors selected surgery as an option to deal with obesity this was previously considered as elective and not always covered yet with the new decisions this should change and many patients should benefit from coverage since it no longer has to do with a lifestyle decision but a health issue.
The billing for previous related issues will pretty much remain the same but for issues such as elective surgeries and any other direct treatment for obesity should now be reclassified and billed differently by doctor offices. So before since obesity was not considered a disease there were no identifying code associated with it therefore billing was restricted now with this change procedures need to change and there will be code to cover expenses associated directly with obesity.
There is hope that by making these changes not only treatment of obesity will improve but there would be more measures taken to prevent it. Obviously both doctors and patients knowing that they will get reimbursed for the expenses associated with obesity are going to be more proactive at combating the issue.
In the past some providers would charge higher premiums and many employers transferred those expenses to individuals. And approvals for any obesity related surgeries and treatments not only took a long time but were sometimes very difficult to get approvals on. And at the end they would cover only a portion such as up to $15,000 and the rest was the responsibility of the patient.
Hopefully this is going to be positive change to bring about good results with a growing problem of obesity in United States.