How to Talk About Obesity and Obesity-Related Insurance Coverage at Work

Choosing Health Insurance Coverage If You’re Living with Obesity
December 4, 2023
Cómo hablar de la obesidad y de su correspondiente cobertura del seguro en el trabajo
December 4, 2023


Obesity is so common in the United States that nearly half (4 out of 10) American adults live with the disease, which can pose serious health risks and lead to premature death.

Many people living with obesity face discrimination or poor treatment in the workplace.

Employers can help reduce stigma, improve working environments for people with obesity, and make sure employee benefits cover medically necessary treatments and programs. Covering treatments for obesity can not only improve the health and well-being of employees, but it can also reduce company healthcare costs.

Employees can also play a role by advocating for their needs and for a workplace built on fairness, compassion and respect.

Here’s how to address obesity and related health insurance coverage in the workplace:



How to talk about obesity

Do say: People living with obesity.
Don’t say: Obese people, fat people or overweight people.

How to think about obesity

Do recognize that obesity is a disease, not a character flaw or lifestyle choice.
Don’t assume that workers living with obesity are unmotivated or unprofessional.Do recognize that, for some people, diet and exercise are not enough to lose weight. Medications or surgery may be necessary.

How to communicate with employees living with obesity

Do be respectful, compassionate and open.
Don’t dismiss people’s concerns.
Don’t judge or mock people’s experiences or appearance.

What you can do to support people living with obesity

Don’t leave employees to figure out the benefits on their own.
Do learn the details of the company’s coverage for obesity treatment.
Do advocate for benefits that support people living with obesity:
Anti-obesity medicationsDiet and nutrition programsWeight-loss surgeryPrescription digital therapiesObesity specialistsExercise programs Mental health professionals, nutritionists and dietitians Don’t go it alone. Tap into resources for employers:

Healthy People 2030The CDCSTOP Obesity AllianceObesity Care WeekThe Milken InstituteHarvard TH Chan School of Public HealthBusiness Group on HealthThe AllianceHR Dive



How to advocate for health benefits not covered by insurance

Tell your employer what coverage would help you manage your disease:Anti-obesity medications Surgery Programs or interventions Obesity care specialists

Read: Dear Employer: How to Ask for Obesity Care Insurance Coverage

Calculate your out-of-pocket costs. Let your employer know where your health insurance benefits fall short and what that costs you.
Share healthcare provider recommendations for treatments and programs and ask your employer to add them to the benefits package for everyone.
Find more information you can use to advocate for coverage of obesity care:

Facts about obesity from the CDCInformation about causes of and treatments for obesity from Mayo ClinicInformation about obesity treatments from the Obesity Action CoalitionTypical costs of weight-loss surgery from Money.comTips for reviewing your health insurance policy for obesity coverage from the Obesity Action CoalitionTalking points and tips from the Obesity Medicine AssociationResources from Obesity Care WeekFast facts about obesity from STOP Obesity AllianceInformation about coverage for weight-loss medications from Becker’s Payer IssuesInformation about participating in clinical trials from the National Institutes of Health

This educational resource was created with support from Eli Lilly and Company.