About 20% of Americans are currently on a diet according to NPD’s National Eating Trends. In these times of changing health insurance guidelines, the question is often posed as to whether or not insurance carriers will reimburse consumers for their participation in weight loss programs. The quick answer is that “it depends upon your carrier and the health incentives provided by your plan.” You didn’t really think it was going to be a “yes” or “no” answer did you? Let me explain.
It would certainly make sense that a lifestyle based on a healthy diet, good nutrition, and an exercise program are all elements that contribute to better health, increased stress reduction, and greater longevity . In addition, the medical community touts preventative medicine in combination with diet and exercise as a means of thwarting major diseases such as cancer, heart disease, type two diabetes and other serious illnesses.
Since most weight loss programs require a doctor’s permission before starting, the introduction of a plan for good nutrition, counseling and monitoring of food intake, physical activity and a food plan during, as well as a maintenance plan afterward, it would make sense that every insurer should assist the consumer in paying for their chosen weight loss program. However, this is not a standard practice and varies depending upon your insurer, your plan and the yearly allowances for healthy lifestyle incentives. Some insurers do actually pay toward health club memberships while others offer discounts per plan year and still others provide a single lifetime benefit.
While commercial weight loss programs such as those seen advertised on TV can be accessed online, at work or via attendance at weekly meetings, some carriers have their own online portal which provides resources for assisting their members in his or her efforts at weight loss.
Regardless of the specific plan providing your health insurance coverage, and the program you chose to support a healthy lifestyle, to find out what reimbursements are available to you, it is always best to consult your policy before you make the choice.
However, even if your individual health insurance coverage may not cover this, don’t let that affect your determination to participate in a weight loss program because you are definitely worth it!
– Karen Skoler, CPCU