Are weight loss pills covered by insurance?
As someone who has struggled with weight and obesity, I can attest to the fact that the U.S. has come a long way in terms of helping people lose weight and combat obesity. However, as Dr. Scott Kahan points out, there is still work to be done in terms of giving people access to the types of treatments that may be helpful for them.
The statistics are alarming: more than two out of three adults in America are overweight, and more than a third of us are obese. This isn’t just an issue for adults either – 35% of American children aged 2 to 19 have overweight, and nearly 19% have obesity. These high rates of obesity and overweight take a serious toll on our health and are the reason behind so many diet pills in market. People who have obesity are at increased risk for many serious diseases and chronic health conditions, and they also have an increased risk of premature death.
One way to determine if you are overweight or obese is by calculating your body mass index (BMI). This is a measure of body fat based on your height and weight, and while it isn’t foolproof, it can give you an idea of whether or not you are at a healthy weight. A BMI of 25 to 30 is considered overweight, while a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.
While having a high BMI may not automatically trigger insurance coverage for weight loss services, if you have a health condition associated with being overweight or obese – such as type 2 diabetes – your insurer may cover care for both the excess weight and the comorbid condition. This is why it’s important to speak up and advocate for yourself if you are noticing weight gain or experiencing weight-related health problems. Another option is to try over the counter products, for example there are stimulants or non-stimulants fat burners specifically designed for men and women.
Unfortunately, many insurance companies refuse to cover new weight loss drugs that are deemed medically necessary by doctors. I can personally attest to this, as I was prescribed a weight loss drug by an obesity specialist but my insurer classified it as a “vanity drug” and refused to cover it. This is a common experience for obesity specialists and their patients, and it can be incredibly frustrating.
However, there is hope on the horizon. As more highly effective weight loss drugs are developed, it is possible that the situation will change and insurance companies will be more willing to cover these medications. In the meantime, it is important to speak up and advocate for yourself, and to seek out other options for weight loss if necessary. Whether it’s through a virtual visit with a healthcare provider or a different type of treatment, there are ways to increase your chances of getting coverage for evidence-based weight loss programs and treatments. Don’t give up – the journey to a healthier weight is worth it.
According to Dr. Fatima Cody from Stanford, access to medicines for the treatment of obesity in the U.S. is “dismal.” Part of the problem is that many doctors do not suggest weight loss drugs to their patients, and most patients do not ask for them, often because they are unaware that good treatment options exist. Additionally, even if doctors and patients are aware of FDA-approved drugs, they may have the perception that they are unsafe or not well studied, and that everyone who takes them regains their weight.
The medical system also bears some of the blame for the lack of access to obesity treatments. According to Dr. Stanford, only 1% of doctors in the U.S. are trained in obesity medicine, despite obesity being the “biggest chronic disease of our time.” This lack of training means that many doctors are not equipped to provide the necessary care and treatment to their patients.
Unfortunately, even if a patient’s insurer does cover weight loss drugs, the use of these medications is still low. Data on medication use by patients predates the newer, more effective and safe drugs made by Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, but obesity medicine doctors suspect that the number has not changed much from earlier studies that found that less than 1% of eligible patients obtained one of these drugs. This is about the same percentage as those who get bariatric surgery, which most insurers (including Medicare) cover.
The perception that obesity is simply a matter of personal responsibility – “if you are heavy, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and try harder” – is pervasive and can make both patients and doctors reluctant to seek medical help or prescription medications. This is a perception that needs to change, and it is up to all of us to work towards a more supportive and inclusive healthcare system that recognizes obesity as the serious chronic disease that it is and provides the necessary treatments to those in need.
What do real users have to say?
As someone who has struggled with obesity, I know firsthand how frustrating it can be when insurance won’t cover the medications that might help me lose weight. Unfortunately, this is a common problem for many people seeking treatment for obesity. Even though the FDA has approved Semaglutide at higher doses for the treatment of obesity and chronic weight management, many insurance companies still will not cover the prescription, brand name or generic, for weight loss. The retail price for a dose of Semaglutide is often more than $1,000, making it unaffordable for many people who could benefit from this drug.
However, I have found a solution that makes losing weight with Semaglutide more affordable. Forum Health uses the generic version of the drug and has it formulated at a compounding pharmacy, which allows them to keep costs down and pass the savings on to patients. In addition, Forum Health has designed a Semaglutide weight loss program that includes a first appointment to get you set up for the program, three health coach visits to keep you on track, your first prescription of Semaglutide, and two body composition analysis appointments to track your progress.
Even though insurance and Medicare cannot be accepted for this program, the cost savings from using the generic version of Semaglutide and the support provided through the program make it a more affordable and lasting solution for weight loss. If you have struggled with obesity and are looking for a solution that works for you, I highly recommend giving Forum Health a try. The journey to a healthier weight is worth it, and with the right support and resources, it is possible to achieve your weight loss goals.
– This article is based on experiences of real consumers of diet pills. The author seeks to maintain privacy.