AMA’s Obesity Reclassification Adds Weight to Workers Comp Insurers Budgets

The American Medical Association’s decision to reclassify obesity as a treatable disease could affect employers, according to a new report.

Obesity has historically been dealt with as a co-morbidity issue – or an issue that co-exists but is independent of the reason for treatment.  Medical providers have typically noted only those conditions that they are treating and for which they are being reimbursed. That could change if medical providers feel a responsibility to treat the obesity as a primary disease– particularly with the carrot of greater reimbursement dollars.

Already, evidence is coming in to suggest workers’ compensation claims around obesity could be significantly higher. A study from the California Workers’ Compensation Institute claims show that workers comp cases that list obesity as a co-morbidity have significantly higher paid losses, lost time from work, disability ratings and attorney involvement, along with other factors that can drive up expenses.