FedSmith.com Users Favor Inclusion of Obesity Drugs in FEHB

The Office of Personnel Management recently announced it was not permissible for insurance carriers to exclude obesity drugs under FEHB on the basis that obesity is a lifestyle condition. We asked our users what their thoughts were about this and the majority of responses indicate that the prospect of having coverage for obesity drugs would be a welcome change.

We asked our users in a recent survey about OPM’s announcement about the possibility of including coverage for obesity drugs under the Federal Employee Health Benefits program. The majority of responses indicated that users would welcome such a change.

78% of users said they favor OPM’s approval of drugs under the FEHBP to lose weight, and 55% said they did not object to a small increase in premiums to pay for drugs to help obese federal employees lose weight.

When asked about their opinion of obesity, the majority of respondents (74%) said they believe it is both a medial and lifestyle issue. 15% said it was a lifestyle issue, 11% said a medial issue and another 1% were not sure.

Many users weighed in with comments on the article Obesity and the Federal Employee which provided details about OPM’s letter announcing the changes.

User dennisc200 said, “One of the big reasons for obesity in the US is lack of exercise. Far too many Americans live in communities that were designed for cars not people. In some communities, you can not walk anywhere as there are no sidewalks etc. If you decide to walk anyway, you take your life into your own hands. I really feel sorry for people who live in these places.”

User Mentallect said, “If I had to pay $10 higher premium a month to assist thousands of obese people, I would pay it…no second thoughts about it. I already pay higher auto insurance because of those with V8 sports cars and hulking SUVs. Whose suggesting everyone drives a 4 cylinder mom to help lower their rate?”

User Federally Blue stated, “I would be on board with helping the overweight get obesity under control IF I could be guaranteed that the doctor who recommends a procedure be honest and truthful and not just writing this up to get the employer-sponsored health insurance to pay for something the individual wants because they lack the motivation and self control to lose weight without surgery. I work with a few folks who had some sort of procedure yet I still see them eating potato chips and drinking sodas. And I feel confident that these people did not come out of pocket for their procedures but had their physician write it up as ‘medically necessary.'”

User Rosemary Spezzano added, “What would be helpful is for more health insurance plans to provide for preventative care, such as partial payment for gym memberships to go along with the medications and/or surgery needed to correct obesity. For some of us, hypothyroidism and sleep apnea are medical issues that contribute to weight gain and obesity. Perhaps a more holistic approach to treating the illness is needed that insurance can provide. The problem is we all need food to sustain life, but sometimes it is the choices that need fine tuning.”

User redaubrn disagreed with the idea of increased premiums, saying, “The cost should not be handed down to those who do not need to lose weight. Walking is free, Gyms cost 10.00 month, I do not expect someone to pay for me and I need to lose about 75lbs, so why should I pay for someone else. We keep getting hit with higher taxes locally and federally, now they want others to pay for our bad habits. Not fair.”

User HRGuy71 felt it was a personal accountability issue, stating, “For most, using drugs to control weight won’t help in the long run and could be harmful. Government attempts to expand health insurance to cover all physical problems is short-sighted. All of us will pay higher premiums to subsidize lack of self-control for those who are obese. Welcome to our politically correct world– no personal responsibility. The collective will Subsidize lack of self control of individuals. No personal accountability.”

Thanks to our users who shared their responses in our latest survey. Feel free to weigh in further in the comments below.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.