National insurers are considering introducing health care benefits to treat childhood obesity as a medical condition. Former President Bill Clinton’s foundation and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, who specializes in childhood obesity, are pushing this change and trying to decrease unhealthy lifestyle habits that tend to lead to obesity. New benefits include visits to nutritionists and other specialists for weight-related issues annually. Not only are children monitored for weight and body mass; parents are also instructed on nutrition and physical activity. EXCELLENT!
In North Caroline, Blue Cross Blue Shield has 1,395 families signed up for benefits and plans to track the program for three years to assess the program. Physicians are also targeted, receiving tool kits that include tape measures and ‘body mass index wheels’. Blue Cross hints at the hope that these programs will prove cheaper than the alternative long-term medications, blood glucose testing, and insulin injections (to say nothing of pumps and CGM).
We hope more insurers take this proactive strategy that will also promote better health and a decrease in the obesity epidemic. And, we hope Blue Cross Blue Shield puts the investment into the program that will be required to show that it is truly cost-effective – it certainly sounds like it should be but these studies take time and focus. We applaud Blue Cross Blue Shield for turning this direction and also the William J. Clinton Foundation for putting this issue on the map.