In June, the American Medical Association (AMA) officially classified obesity as a disease. With opinions flying about the value of this designation, anyone who has endured obesity in his or her own life breathed a sigh of relief.
However, what exactly does the new definition, mean for the obese community? How will both providers and patients be affected?
Increased medical support
The hippocratic oath provides medical professionals with a clear foundation for their professional integrity. Far from enabling the obese population, the new definition will, at best, serve both physicians and patients who have previously stepped around the issue. Primary care physicians now have a responsibility to identify and help patients treat their condition, while citing a patient’s obesity during a routine checkup may have previously seemed invasive or over-critical.
Obstetrics and gynecological physicians in Florida were identified in 2011 as refusing to treat obese female patients due to the risk for potential complications. In 2013, not only are physicians required to treat patients for presenting co-morbid issues but must steer them in the direction of obesity management.
While medical training in obesity treatment may have lagged in the past, the new definition will require medical staff to stay current and knowledgeable on all aspects of weight-related illness and chronic, co-morbid conditions – a win for patients. Though broaching the weight topic may be difficult, a disease designation will help medical professionals navigate new waters.
With their physical condition medically defined, obese individuals are now less easily manipulated by ineffective and often dangerous obesity “cures.” The obesity disease prevents medical charlatans from promoting illicit services to those desperate for help. Rather than turning to the internet or late-night television infomercials for weight loss advice, individuals can call their doctors and expect actionable assistance.
Medical Requirements and Insurance Benefits
Finally, the big question: how does the AMA’s designation influence medical care? Will insurance companies finally cover the expensive surgeries that patients seek?
Yes and no. Weight loss surgery has been proven to treat and often cure co-morbid conditions, including type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure. The Affordable Care Act, recognizing that the ability of insurers to cover various medical procedures varies from state to state based on economic factors beyond the control of insurance providers, requires only a baseline minimum of care for obesity. Weight loss surgery is not a minimum requirement of the act. While many providers will add weight loss surgery to their plans, those in more than 24 states will not cover beyond the basic requirements for obesity screenings and referrals to dieticians and other specialists. For the most up-to-date information, call your insurance provider first to inquire about what they do and do not cover. Obesity advocacy groups like Lindstrom may be able to help you get your surgery covered if your plan does not offer it.
What’s My First Step?
Maybe your primary care physician recommends you consider weight loss surgery. Perhaps you just know in your gut that a surgical procedure is the right move toward your personal health goals.
In either case, your next step is to attend a weight loss surgery seminar. Discard what you have heard about weight loss surgery and gather your own data at one of our free discussions. You’ll hear from our surgeons about every procedure we offer in our comprehensive program and what you can expect along the way. We promise to guide you to your absolute best option.