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Pharmaceutical Advocacy

Posted on March 4, 2022 at 12:19 PM by Iowa Weight Loss Specialists

Insufficient insurance coverage for anti-obesity medications (AOMs) is one of the chief complaints and frustrations for providers and their patients.  Employers may choose whether or not to cover them when formulating an employee insurance plan.  Government officials have the option to either include or exclude these medications for Medicare and Medicaid recipients.  Underlying stigma and bias may unintentionally steer these decisions.  Advocating for patients with obesity is important in the advancement of treatment options and can be an intimidating prospect.  Consider writing to a member of congress, your human resources department, or insurance company to state your case.  Personal stories can really make an impact.  The following background and points may help support your position.  You may feel free to use these statements as applicable in your personal letter.  Templates for writing the letter are easily found on the internet along with the names and addresses of congress members in your area. 

The follow is an excerpt from a letter I recently sent to Governor Reynolds:

The thought that obesity is a “lifestyle choice” or simply a “cosmetic” issue is extremely outdated.  Obesity is a chronic, complex, multifactorial disease as recognized by the American Medical Association since 2013.  Obesity is associated with more than 60 comorbidities, directly leading to the development of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.  Weight loss is often recommended to prevent and reduce risks associated with these diseases; however it is not that simple.  Most people can absolutely change nutrition and activity, but this won’t necessarily translate to weight loss and almost certainly not weight loss to the extent that an individual becomes normal weight.  Historically we tried to control cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes with diet and exercise.  The advancement of medications had a drastic impact on treatment.  Obesity is no different.  The most frustrating barrier to fighting obesity in Iowa is a lack of insurance coverage for AOMs.  My peers and I are baffled many insurance companies exclude anti-obesity medication coverage, yet pay the astronomical medical costs associated with these other diseases without focusing on the common underlying cause: obesity.  

Current stats in Iowa:

  • 824,868 adults in Iowa are living with obesity

  • 33.9% of adults in Iowa are now affected by obesity

  • Employees with obesity incur more than 2.5x increase in cost compared to employees with normal weight including medical, pharmacy, sick days, disability, and workers’ compensation costs

  • Absence due to illness or injury is increased 128% for employees with obesity

  • Annual productivity loss is $271-542 per employee with obesity

As always, the providers at Iowa Weight Loss Specialists are here to support you.  Together we can make a difference.

Rachelle McCabe, DNP, ARNP, FNP-C

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