Independence Blue CrossTo Help Members Slim Down

Armen Hareyan's picture

Independence Blue Cross offers its members a more comprehensive weight management program than ever before

Beginning July 1, 2007, IBC will offer most of its members coverage for up to six nutrition counseling visits per year. This new benefit complements IBC's many other programs focused on encouraging healthy lifestyles, including cash reimbursements for consistency with fitness and weight loss programs, education programs through schools, employers and the internet and community outreach.

As the second leading cause of death in the United States behind tobacco use, obesity is one of the fastest-growing public health challenges. On a national basis, over 60 percent of adults are overweight and about 30 percent of children age 6 to 11 are overweight, according to the American Obesity Association.

"We are dedicated to helping our members lead healthier lives," said Joseph A. Frick, IBC president and chief executive officer. "Since obesity is both preventable and treatable, we at IBC want to proactively educate the community about its risks. We're happy to now provide members greater access to weight management education through nutrition counseling."

"Being overweight increases the risk of many chronic diseases," said Dr. I. Steven Udvarhelyi, IBC senior vice president and chief medical officer, "including hypertension, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and some cancers. If members receive education and apply it to their lives, they can prevent some of these diseases from occurring, just by maintaining a healthy weight."

Aside from lessening the risk of serious disease, losing weight often results in positive changes in everyday life, such as increased energy levels, reduced aches and pains, improved mobility, increased self-esteem, improved breathing, and more restful sleep.

Beginning July 1, adults and children covered through Personal Choice and Keystone Health Plan East HMO and POS products will have access to six nutrition counseling visits per year with their physician or a registered dietitian. There are no out-of-pocket costs to members when the services are provided by in-network providers. However, a referral for nutrition counseling is required for HMO members. Deductible and coinsurance cost sharing will apply for visits to an out-of-network PPO/POS provider and for self-referred visits by POS members.


By taking advantage of the opportunity for nutrition counseling visits, members may benefit from:

-- Talking with a professional about their eating habits and weight concerns;

-- Using risk assessment tools such as the Body Mass Index (BMI);

-- Determining the best weight management approach for them;

-- Setting realistic goals for weight change with ongoing support to maintain it; and

-- Developing an appropriate exercise program to complement the weight loss plan.

The new nutrition counseling visits will complement many other weight management programs that IBC members already enjoy:

-- Incentives for Lifestyle Changes reward members for healthy behavior. Adult members can receive cash reimbursements for exercising at the gym 120 times a year and for participating in approved weight loss programs. Members can also be reimbursed for children's weight-loss programs at the YMCA, like the HIP kids program.

-- Connections(SM) Health Management Programs Obesity increases risks for certain chronic conditions. Covering 22 chronic diseases, IBC's Connections programs provide information and support for people living with chronic diseases, including diabetes, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. Obesity increases risks for some of the above chronic conditions.



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