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(a) This Code section shall be known and may be cited as the “Morbid Obesity Anti-discrimination Act.”
(b) The General Assembly finds and declares that:
(1) Whereas many health care insurers cover the costs of treatment for patients diagnosed as morbidly obese by their physicians, many other insurers refuse to cover such costs;
(2) There is sufficient scientific data that implicate morbid obesity as the cause of many other medical problems and costly health complications, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. These data indirectly question the safety and appropriateness of the continued refusal of some insurers to cover the medically indicated treatment of the morbidly obese patient. The association of morbid obesity with the aforementioned devastating diseases refutes any claim of a purely cosmetic indication for the treatment of morbid obesity and clearly designates morbid obesity as a life-threatening disease;
(3) The cost of managing the complications of morbid obesity, largely due to inadequate treatment, far outweighs the cost of expeditious, effective medical treatment. Therefore, insurers who continue to refuse to pay for the primary treatment of morbid obesity are contributing to the high cost of management of secondary complications;
(4) Guidelines developed by the National Institute of Health, the American Society for Bariatric Surgery, the American Obesity Association, and Shape Up America and embraced by the American Medical Association and the American College of Surgeons recommend that patients who are morbidly obese receive responsible, affordable medical treatment for their obesity; and
(5) The diagnosis of morbid obesity should be a clinical decision made by a physician based on the guidelines set by the appropriate health and medical associations and organizations. The treatment modality should also be a clinical decision made by the physician based on set guidelines.
(c)(1) As used in this Code section, the term:
(A) “Health benefit policy” means any individual or group plan, policy, or contract for health care services issued, delivered, issued for delivery, or renewed in this state which provides major medical benefits, including those contracts executed by the state on behalf of indigents and on behalf of state employees under Article 1 of Chapter 18 of Title 45, by a health care corporation, health maintenance organization, preferred provider organization, accident and sickness insurer, fraternal benefit society, or other insurer or similar entity.
(B) “Health care providers” means those physicians and medical institutions that are specifically qualified to treat in a comprehensive manner the entire complex of illness and disease associated with morbid obesity.
(C) “Insurer” means an accident and sickness insurer, fraternal benefit society, health care corporation, health maintenance organization, or any similar entity authorized to issue contracts under this title and also means any state program funded under Title XIX of the federal Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.A. Section 1396 et seq., and any other publicly funded state health care program.
(D) “Morbid obesity” means a weight which is at least 100 pounds over or twice the ideal weight for frame, age, height, and gender as specified in the 1983 Metropolitan Life Insurance tables. Morbid obesity also means a body mass index (BMI) equal to or greater than 35 kilograms per meter squared with comorbidity or coexisting medical conditions such as hypertension, cardiopulmonary conditions, sleep apnea, or diabetes or a BMI of 40 kilograms per meter squared without such comorbidity. BMI equals weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared.
(2) Every health benefit policy that is delivered, issued, executed, or renewed in this state or approved for issuance or renewal in this state by the Commissioner which provides major medical benefits may offer coverage for the treatment of morbid obesity.
(d) The Commissioner of Insurance shall adopt rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this Code section in collaboration with the Department of Public Health and in compliance with current guidelines established by professional medical organizations relating to the treatment of morbid obesity.
Cite this article: FindLaw.com - Georgia Code Title 33. Insurance § 33-24-59.7 - last updated April 14, 2021 | https://codes.findlaw.com/ga/title-33-insurance/ga-code-sect-33-24-59-7/
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