Medicare patients can now get obesity screening and dietary counseling without paying a co-pay. The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that effective immediately these services will be offered without “cost sharing,” meaning co-pays from the patient.
The benefit includes screening for obesity (measuring body mass index), conducting a dietary assessment and for providing counseling therapy to promote sustained weight loss. CMS even regulates a frequency of these visits: once a week for the first month, one face-to-face visit every other week for months 2 through 6. Then at the 6 month visit the provider must assess whether the effort is resulting in weight loss. If 6.6 pounds have been lost in the first 6 months, then additional 6 months of visits may be performed without co-pays.
Why is this being done? Because more than 30% of people over 65 are obese. Obesity counseling adds to a list of preventive services covered by Medicare.
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