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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Nov;27(11):1423-9.

Effects of outcome-driven insurance reimbursement on short-term weight control.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition Sciences, Clinical Nutrition Research Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Although most health insurers exclude coverage of weight control therapy, one local insurer offered partial reimbursement of the cost of a weight control program, using an incentive plan.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether outcome-driven insurer-based reimbursement improves participation in a weight control program and short-term weight loss outcomes.

DESIGN:

Cohort follow-up study between January 1998 and February 2001.

SETTING:

Community weight management program operated by an academic medical center.

SUBJECTS:

Obese participants who had the potential for reimbursement (Group A, n=25) and participants in the same program classes (Group B, n=100) who had no possibility for reimbursement. Subjects in Group B were selected from among 206 potential participants using a propensity score to match them with subjects in Group A on age, gender, ethnicity, starting BMI, starting weight, and educational, economic, and demographic variables.

INTERVENTION:

Group lifestyle-based weight management program. The insurer reimbursed half the cost of the program to obese participants who met minimum weight criteria, paid the program fee at enrollment, attended > or =10 of the 12 classes, and lost > or =6% of initial body weight after 12 weeks.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Participation rates and weight loss outcomes.

RESULTS:

Group A subjects attended significantly more classes (mean+/-s.d.: 10.1+/-1.8 vs 8.2+/-2.5, P<0.001) and lost more weight than Group B subjects (6.1+/-3.1 vs 3.7+/-3.6%, P=0.002). While 84% of Group A subjects attended > or =10 classes, only 37% of Group B subjects did so (P<0.001); 56% of Group A subjects lost > or =6% of body weight, but only 20% of Group B subjects did so (P<0.001); 56% of Group A subjects achieved both the class attendance and weight loss goals, but only 14% of Group B subjects did so (P<0.001). Logistic regression estimated that Group A subjects had 8.2 times the odds of attending > or =10 classes and 4.5 times the odds of losing > or =6% of body weight of Group B subjects, after controlling for class attendance.

CONCLUSIONS:

Insurer-based reimbursement that is contingent upon initial financial commitment on the part of the patient, consistent program participation, and successful weight loss is associated with significantly better short-term weight control outcomes.

PMID:
14574356
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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