Medicare Adds Coverage for Obesity Screenings

Medicare Adds Coverage for Obesity Screenings

Obesity is a health risk for many Americans, and, unfortunately, approximately 30% of Medicare beneficiaries fall into this alarming category. With obesity related to or a cause of many chronic diseases including heart disease, strokes, and diabetes, preventive services are more important than ever.  With this in mind, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new Medicare coverage of preventive services for obesity.  Under the Affordable Care Act, these services will offered with no cost to the beneficiary, and will be added to the many other preventive services and screenings Medicare offers.

According to former CMS Administrator Donald M. Berwick, MD, “Obesity is a challenge faced by Americans of all ages, and prevention is crucial for the management and elimination of obesity in our country. It’s important for Medicare patients to enjoy access to appropriate screening and preventive services.”[1] With the proper care, beneficiaries can reduce risk factors for disease and live a healthier lifestyle.

These new benefits include obesity screenings based on body mass index by a primary care physician in a doctor’s office. A beneficiary whose body mass index is equal to or greater than 30 kg/m2 would be eligible to receive one face-to-face counseling visit each week for one month and one face-to-face counseling visit every other week for an additional five months.  The beneficiary may receive one face-to-face counseling visit every month for an additional six months (for a total of 12 months of counseling) if they have achieved a weight reduction of at least 6.6 pounds (or 3 kilograms) during the first six months of counseling.

CMS works in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lead the Million Hearts initiative, which is committed to help prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the next five years.[2] With the additional obesity screenings and counseling benefits now offered, Medicare beneficiaries can take advantage of the opportunity to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes and live stronger, healthier lives.

 


[1] www.cms.gov/apps/media/press/release; MEDICARE COVERS SCREENING AND COUNSELING FOR OBESITY

 

[2] http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/

 

Medicare has neither reviewed nor approved this information.