| Thu, Jul 19, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Medicare Memo: How High is Your BMI?

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

BMI body mass indexExcess weight seems to be stacking up as one of our country’s biggest health problems. About two-thirds of all American adults were overweight or obese, according to data reported by the Centers for Disease Control in 2010. This makes us the fattest population of any industrialized nation. The cost? A cool $190 billion per year, reports the Journal of Health Economics (January 2012).

The personal cost of carrying extra pounds is significant as well. Obesity raises the risk of cancer, stroke, heart attack, osteoarthritis and diabetes. Other health problems include chronic pain, lack of energy, shortness of breath and more.

So, how high is your BMI?

What is BMI?

BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a measure of appropriate weight. It is used by health professionals to help determine if a person is normal weight, underweight or overweight.

The easiest way to find your BMI is to find your height and weight in a BMI chart. For most people, a BMI of:

  • Less than 18.5 is in the underweight range.
  • 18.5 to 24.9 is in the normal or healthy weight range.
  • 25.0 to 29.9 is in the overweight range.
  • 30.0 or higher is in the obese range.

Medicare Covers Weight Loss Counseling

Medicare beneficiaries with a BMI of 30 or higher can qualify for nutrition and lifestyle counseling to help them lose weight and keep it off. The service must be provided by a qualified primary care physician or other practitioner in a primary care setting, such as your doctor’s office.

Counseling includes a dietary assessment, collaborative goal setting and methods to achieve goals. Medical treatments may be used when appropriate.

Medicare covers:

  • One face-to-face visit every week for the first month
  • One face-to-face visit every other week for months 2-6
  • One face-to-face visit every month for months 7-12, if you meet a weight loss requirement of 6.6 pounds

If you don’t lose the required amount in the first six months, then you have to wait another six months before Medicare will cover the service again.

Are You Thinking about Weight Loss?

Thinking about doing something is the first step toward doing it. And you’re more likely to be successful if the thought is your own, especially when it comes to weight loss. You need to be ready and motivated to make the changes you need to make. If you are, talk to your doctor about it. Even a small weight loss can make a big difference in your health and in how you feel.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.