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Public Health Rep. 2010 Jul-Aug;125(4):596-604.

Coverage of obesity treatment: a state-by-state analysis of Medicaid and state insurance laws.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, The George Washington University, Washington, DC 20037, USA.



We determined whether state Medicaid programs cover recommended treatments for adult and pediatric obesity and to what extent states regulate the treatment and coverage of obesity by private insurers.


We conducted a state-by-state document review of Medicaid manuals and private insurance laws and regulations.


Eight state Medicaid programs appear to cover all recommended obesity treatment modalities for adults. Only 10 states appear to reimburse for obesity-related treatment in children. In the small-group insurance market, 35 states expressly allow obesity to be used for rate adjustments, while 10 states do so in the individual market. Two states expressly allow obesity to be used in eligibility decisions in the individual market. Five states provide for coverage of one or more treatments for obesity in both small-group and individual markets.


Very few states ensure coverage of recommended treatments for adult and pediatric obesity through Medicaid or private insurance. Most states allow obesity to be used to adjust rates in the small-group and individual markets and to deny coverage in the individual market.

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