Insurance redesign beneficial in ensuring that children receive obesity services

May 3, 2013, Emory University
"Childhood obesity rates will continue to rise unless we aggressively tackle the issue," says Kimberly J. Rask, MD/PhD, associate professor in the department of Health Policy and Management at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health.

The rise in childhood obesity and associated health conditions have become a significant concern in the United States. An initiative by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which fights childhood obesity, found benefits in expanding health care coverage to obesity services, preventive care and ensuring that families comply with preventive care guidelines.

Researchers from Emory's Rollins School of Public collaborated with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to evaluate and report findings from their Healthier Generation Benefit, in which the national non-profit organization joined forces with companies and large self-insured employers to expand for the prevention, assessment, and treatment of childhood obesity.

The complete findings of this initiative are published in the 2013 special edition of The Journal of Obesity, Childhood Obesity: Today and Tomorrow's Health Challenge

Insurers agreed to pay for at least four follow-up visits with the child's primary care provider and at least four visits with a registered dietician per year for children in the 85th percentile or higher of BMI for their age. Insurers and employers also agreed to annually distribute obesity-related educational materials to eligible beneficiaries and monitor utilization by sharing yearly administrative data.

"Childhood will continue to rise unless we aggressively tackle the issue," says Kimberly J. Rask, MD/PhD, associate professor in the department of Health Policy and Management at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health. "This initiative is groundbreaking in that the findings are relevant to many preventive and can be used to improve the effectiveness of future efforts to promote preventive care through insurance redesign."

Rask and her team used two main methods to determine key success factors of the initiative:

Key Informant Interviews: Interviews were conducted with the implementation coordinators for all participating insurers or employers who offered the coverage for at least a year while additional interviews were conducted with those covering for at least two years. The interviews contained questions about coverage, eligibility, implementation, barriers and lessons learned.

Administrative Claim Data Review: Key informants were asked about changes in utilization of obesity-specific health care services and non-identifiable health plan administrative claims were reviewed to monitor the use of obesity-related counseling codes.

The findings indicated that the overall initiative was successful in expanding for obesity services with all participating organizations being able to implement and offer the coverage. Participants also identified several potential barriers in translating access into utilization, communication of new coverage between providers and families, facilitating the varying requirements for documentation, varying acceptance of billing codes across insurers for providers, and low use of BMI-specific diagnosis codes and counseling billing codes.

"The experiences of the early adopters of the Healthier Generation Benefit provide important models and guidance for the implementation of insurance incentives to help combat childhood obesity," says Victoria Brown, vice president for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and co-author of the article. "We are excited about the results of the report and look forward to exploring ways to improve this innovative approach to delivery. The efforts of everyone involved confirm that a team-based approach among physicians, dieticians, providers, healthcare organizations, and families is required to eliminate the crisis."

Explore further: White House's Childhood Obesity Task Force must focus on providing treatment for minority children

More information: … s/jobes/2013/379513/

Related Stories

White House's Childhood Obesity Task Force must focus on providing treatment for minority children

September 8, 2011
The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, created by the president as part of the first lady's "Let's Move" campaign, aims to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation, returning the country to a ...

Report identifies community health centers as America's 'first responders' in fighting obesity

November 8, 2011
Community health centers (CHCs) and primary care providers working in other settings will increasingly become America's obesity "first responders," needed to provide weight-related health services as the nation continues ...

Obesity may be declining among preschool-aged children living in low-income families

December 25, 2012
"Obesity and extreme obesity in childhood, which are more prevalent among minority and low-income families, have been associated with other cardiovascular risk factors, increased health care costs, and premature death. Obesity ...

HHS details overhaul rules and required benefits

November 20, 2012
The Obama administration is strengthening the prescription drug coverage that will be available to the millions of people who will start getting insurance through the nation's health care overhaul.

Higher proportion of California children uninsured than in US, analysis shows

November 14, 2012
Compared to the nation, a higher proportion of children in California are uninsured, one in every 10 children or more than 1.1 million in 2011. More of California's children have public health insurance and fewer through ...

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.