The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced this week that preventive services for obesity will now be covered by Medicare with no cost-sharing requirements for enrollees. This move adds to Medicare’s existing portfolio of preventive services that are now available without cost sharing under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including depression screening and alcohol abuse/misuse screening.
The obesity prevention services that will now be covered at no charge to Medicare enrollees include obesity screening and counseling in primary care providers’ offices. For a beneficiary who screens positive for obesity with a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30, the benefit would include one face-to-face counseling visit each week for one month and one face-to-face counseling visit every other week for an additional five months. The beneficiary may receive one face-to-face counseling visit every month for an additional six months (for a total of 12 months of counseling) if he or she has achieved a weight reduction of at least 6.6 pounds during the first six months of counseling.
So far this year, 22.6 million Medicare enrollees have received one or more of the free covered preventive services enacted under the ACA.