Temple Robinson, medical director at Bond Community Health Center, says one disturbing aspect of obesity is that it causes other serious diseases that can be prevented, diseases like gall bladder problems and even strokes, which can eventually lead to death.
Temple says, "For years doctors have had to code around the word obesity, meaning you could not charge Medicare or Medicaid. You could charge them but they would not pay because obesity was not looked as disease."
But now that obesity has become the second leading cause of death in the country, Medicare is now recognizing obesity as an illness. Beneficiaries will be able to file medical claims to get treatment such as stomach surgery and diet programs.
Joyce Barrington says, "If these claims are related to an illness, and obesity now is beginning to be more and more of an illness and people are realizing that it affects a whole lot of other areas in their lives, so you're beginning to see more reimbursing with those types of diagnoses related to obesity."
Staff at Bond say hopefully folks suffering from obesity will feel more at ease about seeking help because there's coverage, but they stress a more important treatment for folks, changing their lifestyle.
Robinson adds, "All things in moderation, exercise in moderation, eat in moderation."
Previously Medicare did cover sicknesses caused by obesity, but coverage for weight loss therapies were often denied. Folks will have to check with their service provider to confirm the changes and beneficiaries will have to go through a process to determine whether certain treatments can be covered.