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AMA Now Calls Obesity a Disease

On Friday, the American Medical Association endorsed calling obesity a recognize disease. The move will allow for better insurance reimbursement as well as a higher standard of care for an epidemic that is out of control in the United States. The decision to “recognize obesity as a disease state with multiple pathophysiology aspects requiring a range of interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention,” doesn’t have any legal standing but past decisions have led to changes in legislation at all levels of government.

Not everybody agrees with the decision. Some physicians expressed worry that patients who have a high Body Mass Index (BMI) but may be healthy will receive aggressive care that is not needed.

Others believe that healthcare costs could be driven up unnecessarily when lifestyle changes are indicated–something that is difficult for doctors to treat.

A Spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, which include UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), Aetna (NYSE: AET), Cigna (NYSE: CI), Humana, (NYSE: HUM) and numerous Blue Cross plans said, “We understand obesity as a condition and a risk factor for other diseases. The important thing is to get programs and supports in place to address it, as health plans have done and are doing.”

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, the author had no position in any of the companies mentioned.


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