This coverage included expansion for nutritional counseling services, increasing by 133% during this time — from nine states up to 21 states who offered coverage — and a 9% expansion in coverage for bariatric surgery, rising from 45 to 49 states offering coverage, but no net increase for pharmacotherapy (16 states in both plan years), they reported at ObesityWeek, a joint meeting of The Obesity Society and the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery, and simultaneously in Obesity.
However, Jannah told MedPage Today that her group was “not surprised to find that obesity care coverage remains patchy across states, or that many programs have erected additional barriers to care where coverage is available.”
State employee health insurance programs saw even greater expansions in coverage for obesity prevention and treatments during this time.
In 2017, 42 states, 43 states, and 23 states provided nutritional counseling, bariatric surgery, and pharmacology coverage under state employee health insurance programs, respectively.
To assess pharmacotherapy coverage, the researchers reviewed coverage listed on administrative documents, provider manuals, fee schedules, and other areas for data on Medicaid and state employee health insurance programs.
“In states where coverage is lacking, advocates can point to progress in other states when urging policymakers to rethink obesity care in state-funded health insurance programs,” she suggested, highlighting that it’s in the best interest to expand coverage for obesity treatments since it will ultimately save money long-term by cutting costs of related comorbidities.
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