States insist on obesity coverage

January 1, 2001

Pharmaceutical Representative

More states are telling HMOs and other health insurers to pick up the tab for pharmaceuticals and other forms of obesity treatment.

As the evidence grows regarding the role that obesity plays in many illnesses, more states are telling HMOs and other health insurers to pick up the tab for pharmaceuticals and other forms of obesity treatment.

According to StateLine,™ Newtown, PA-based Scott-Levin's tracking system for government legislation and regulation, recent laws have taken effect in:


•Â Georgia, where the governor signed the Morbid Obesity Anti-Discrimination Act, which requires insurers to provide major medical benefits for treatment of morbid obesity.


•Â Indiana, where the governor signed a bill to require health insurers and HMOs to provide coverage for morbid obesity.


•Â Virginia, where the governor signed a bill to require coverage of gastric bypass surgery and "other recognized methods."

According to Scott-Levin, these measures represent just the beginning of this trend. In all, 26 states have recently proposed legislation addressing obesity-related issues.

The legislation is diverse. Some bills would establish commissions to study obesity and its health consequences. Others would regulate existing prescription and over-the-counter therapies for weight loss.

Underlying all this activity is the goal of state health policy-makers to better understand the true cost of obesity. PR

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