Weight and Insurance | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Weight and Insurance

Almost every single Tuesday morning since July of last year, I've sat with a group of equally weight-challenged individuals at the Baptist Nutrition Center, talking mostly about how to make the food we're supposed to eat taste better. We also talk about our small triumphs—even one pound lost is cause for celebration—and our backsliding—the holidays were tough for many. We are each other's accountability in the program, even more so than the scales, and our personal cheerleading squad.

For many of us, weight loss has made a dramatic improvement in our health. People report remarkably decreased blood pressure, blood-sugar readings returning to normal and even getting off insulin and other drugs, including cholesterol meds. For some, they're able to be active again and for others, they simply feel good, sometimes for the first time. For me, losing 60 pounds since last March is a minor miracle after years of yo-yo dieting. At 210 and size 20, my flat feet hurt so much after a simple grocery trip that the Wendy's drive-in was usually too tempting to pass up. Me—the dancin' fool in heels and a size 10 at the JFP "best of" party last month.

The talk this morning wasn't about any of that. It was about Blue-Cross/Blue-Shield. One woman had received a notice that BC/BS was going to stop paying for the program, even though she's diabetic. Not only were they stopping coverage, they want her to repay all of the money they "mistakenly" paid for the required bi-weekly lab work, which ensures our bodies are tolerating the high-protein, low carb, fat and calorie diet. She can't afford the program any more. Others nodded their heads in agreement. BC/BS, it seems, won't pay for weight-reduction programs regardless of the health implications.

Are they insane? Has some actuary table told them that it costs less to pay for diabetes medication and heart disease "cures" than to have a healthy population? Don't they understand that obesity is major health-care issue in this country and that Mississippi is leader of the pack? Do they think it's cheaper their way because all of us fatties are going to die young anyway? Do they really think that all people with serious obesity problems are just going to walk it off?

I want to hear your thoughts on this one. Does your health insurance (if you're lucky enough to have it) have a wellness program? Does it cover weight loss programs of any kind? How can we change the system to serve reality?

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