Keeping off the pounds is tough at any age. Now seniors are getting a helping hand from Medicare. Last month Medicare announced that it’s adding coverage for nutritional and behavioral counseling for those who are obese as measured by body mass index or BMI. BMI is a tool which measures weight status for adults- and it’s broken into several categories: Underweight (Below 18.5), Normal (18.5 – 24.9), Overweight (25.0 – 29.9) and Obese (30.0 and above). This new program for Medicare beneficiaries is for folks with a BMI of 30 or more. You can use this BMI calculator to see where you stand.
The objective of this new preventive coverage is to reduce the impact of obesity and chronic disease among the 30% of folks men and women within Medicare are obese. For Medicare beneficiaries with a BMI over 30, counseling coverage includes: 1) One face-to-face visit every week for the first month; One face-to-face visit every other week for months 2 – 6; and One face-to-face visit every month for months 7 – 12 if the individual meets their weight-loss goals. Additional information on this exciting new preventive coverage can be found on the Medicare website.
Why is this new benefit important? Because most states now have adult obesity rates over 25%- resulting in higher risks for stroke, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, respiratory diseases and arthritis. In other words- obesity results in all kinds of bad health outcomes and cause a host of expensive down-stream treatment costs.