Information, outreach help match programs to individual needs
HARTFORD, Conn. – Many people have made the annual weight-loss resolution and others are already on a journey to a healthier body weight. To help inspire a start or encourage continued progress, Aetna (NYSE: AET) wants to help members find their best weight-loss approach and provides information and access to lifestyle management programs, prescription medications and surgical options. Aetna also is launching a pilot program to test the benefits of new FDA-approved, prescription weight-loss drugs combined with lifestyle support.
"Weight loss is a complex, physical and emotional challenge," says Ed Pezalla, M.D., national medical director for pharmacy policy and strategy. "A single approach to weight loss will not be right for everyone. We want to help our members make healthy lifestyle choices by providing access to clinically proven options, information and support that may deliver better results and new hope for those struggling to lose weight."
No one size fits all when it comes to weight loss
Whether someone needs to lose a little or a lot, a balanced approach to weight loss that emphasizes a healthy lifestyle, nutrition and physical activity is the first line of defense. Members can find support to make changes through Aetna's Healthy Lifestyle Coaching programs and CarePass® consumer website and mobile solution that gives convenient access to some of the best health and wellness mobile apps in the marketplace. These programs have helped individuals lose a few to more than 100 pounds.
For some people, healthy lifestyle changes are not always enough. Adding a prescription weight-loss drug may help people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or greater with at least one other weight-related risk or medical condition or those with a BMI of 30 or greater. In 2012, two new weight-loss drugs were approved by the FDA for the first time in 13 years: BELVIQ® (Eisai Inc.) and Qsymia® (VIVUS, Inc.). Clinical trials indicate significant potential for body weight loss ranging between 5-15 percent. Blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar also decreased among participants.
Building from the clinical evidence, Aetna is collaborating with Eisai and VIVUS to offer a pilot program to self-insured plan sponsors. The pilot includes outreach to high-risk members and doctors about covered weight-loss options. To support weight loss and positive lifestyle changes, members who qualify and begin treatment with BELVIQ or Qsymia receive free premium membership to the mobile app "Lose It!" by signing up through Aetna Navigator® and CarePass.
The pilot will measure potential improvement in health outcomes, productivity and medical costs. Results are expected by the end of 2014. Plan sponsors have the option to cover these prescription weight-loss medications in Aetna's health benefit plans.
For some people with extreme obesity, bariatric surgery may be the right solution. Aetna's Institutes of Quality® Bariatric surgery facilities have been designated as meeting high-quality standards based on optimal clinical outcomes and value. Like prescription weight-loss medications, bariatric surgery is a benefit option for plan sponsors.
Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving an estimated 44 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers’ compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna’s customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see www.aetna.com.