By Web Designs,
One in 50 adult Americans is clinically obese, according to a new
The nation is slowly changing its attitude toward obesity as a medical condition. The IRS now allows the cost of weight loss programs to be deducted by taxpayers as a normal medical expense. Employee benefit plans may now classify weight control costs as a tax-free benefit under a health plan. The state of new
For years health insurance companies have charged extra premiums to overweight members. In those cases where severe obesity is accompanied by full or partial disability, unemployment or underemployment, the high cost of these health insurance plans is unaffordable. Some health plans are simply not available to applicants who weigh more than allowed by the underwriters.
In small business health insurance plans, insurance is always available to every full-time employee regardless of weight or medical history. The extra cost of caring for overweight members is spread evenly among all of the employees of the business. Adding an obese employee can boost the premium cost by 5% to 25% for everyone in the group and may cause resentment among the lighter weight employees. Even in larger groups and Blue Cross plans that use a "one price for all" the high cost of treating obesity has become a politically charged issues.
There are still a few low cost health insurance plans available without regard to the applicant's weight.
The best option, when available, is Secure 3x12 STM, a comprehensive indemnity-type major medical plan with a good consumer reputation that will be issued at standard rates and does not screen for weight. It provides continuous coverage for 36 months and re-application is allowed for another 3 years, etc. Obese applicants are approved at standard rates without any extra charge.
Higher deductible policies are available to keep premiums affordable. The only downside is that pre-existing conditions are not picked up from one policy to the next. At this time, this insurance is available only in
In most states the American Health Shield or Simple STM policies (both available at www.MedSave.com) offers full protection and can be issued at standard rates without regard to weight. Coverage always issued at standard rates because the application does not ask about the applicant's weight. This coverage plan is unavailable to individuals with diabetes (that often accompanies obesity) and to those who have previously been declined for coverage. The primary limitation is that this plan requires re-enrollment every six months and pre-existing medical conditions are not covered.