How Do I Choose the Best Bariatric Insurance?

Lainie Petersen

While there is no such thing as bariatric insurance, or insurance that covers various types of treatment for obesity, many insurance plans do cover weight loss treatment, including bariatric surgery. If you need medical or mental health treatment to help you manage your weight, it is important that you review insurance policies to see whether these treatments are covered. If you have any question about coverage, you should talk to your insurance agent, the benefits manager at your workplace, or an insurance company directly to find out about the specific coverage offered by a policy. You may also want to find out if the insurance company offers discounts for weight loss–related services, such as diet programs or health club memberships, to its policyholders.

Many insurance plans cover weight loss treatment, including bariatric surgery.
Many insurance plans cover weight loss treatment, including bariatric surgery.

Some health insurance companies have historically refused to provide bariatric insurance coverage. In some jurisdictions, however, laws have been passed that require health insurance companies to reimburse providers of obesity treatments. This means that a standard health insurance policy should cover at least some of the expenses incurred while you obtain treatment for your condition. Before you begin looking for a health insurance policy, check the laws in your jurisdiction to find out what a policy must cover.

The types of bariatric insurance coverage will vary by policy and jurisdiction, so if you are in a hurry to receive treatment, familiarize yourself with the standards of different insurance companies. In some cases, your insurance may cover the cost of doctors' appointments and prescription drugs for the treatment of your condition. In others, the coverage may extend to various types of weight-loss surgery, such as gastric banding and gastric bypass. Be prepared, however, for your insurance company to have strict policies about providing bariatric insurance coverage. For example, before you can qualify for coverage of weight loss surgery, you may need to work with the doctor and go on a medically supervised diet for several months before you can receive insurance approval.

If you aren't interested in bariatric surgery but still want to obtain professional treatment for your obesity, your insurance company may offer other options. For example, many health insurance policies do cover the cost of mental health treatment. Some people find that working with a counselor or psychologist who specializes in weight loss issues can be extremely helpful in losing weight, so you may wish to select an insurance policy that includes coverage for mental and behavioral health, even if it doesn't specifically offer bariatric insurance coverage. Many insurance companies will also provide you with a formulary, a list of all the drugs that your policy will pay for, upon request. If you are currently using weight loss drugs to treat your condition or are interested in obtaining a prescription for these drugs, check the formulary to find out whether obesity medications are included.

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