Health Business Blog

Health care business consultant and policy expert David E. Williams share his views

How to get Noom for free

Noom combines an app with human coaching to help people lose weight and keep it off. The company’s typical user loses 7.5% of body weight over the course of a four month program.  Customers are joining like crazy, and revenue quadrupled last year.

After hearing about Noom on NPR late last year I signed up, paying $44.99 per month. To put it in perspective, that’s almost twice what I pay for my gym. Plus, my health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts actually reimburses me for three months of gym membership.

And that got me thinking, if Blue Cross pays for me to stay fit at the gym, maybe they would pay for my weight loss program as well. After all, trimmer people cost insurers less money. So I called Blue Cross and they told me they actually do cover weight loss plans, the same way they cover gym memberships.

Once I found out about the benefit, it was incredibly simple to get reimbursed. I typed in some basic information online, uploaded my Noom receipt –and today I received a check for the full amount of my Noom membership. No co-pays, no deductibles, no negotiated discount!

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Online form

It wasn’t easy to find, though, so I’m writing this post to give others a heads up. Here’s where I had to go on the Blue Cross site to find the benefit:

  • Login> My plans> Plan Details> Plan Benefits> Benefit Details> Routine Adult Physical Exams Covered By Your Plan
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Where’s Weight Loss?

Buried at the bottom of a run-on paragraph with no line breaks, I found the following run-on section with weird punctuation and a typo:

Weight Loss Benefit – you and your covered family members can be reimbursed for up to 3 months of participation fees paid to a weight loss program that is hospital-based; or one that is non-hospital-based program focused on eating and physical activity habits, and behavioral/lifestyle counseling with certified health professionals (in-person, by phone, or online). You can request this reimbursement once each calendar year; requests must be submitted by March 31 of the following year.

Bingo! (Although can someone explain why on earth this would be in the physical exams benefit?)

Noom isn’t specifically mentioned, but when I called Blue Cross they assured me the company was on the list. They also told me my call was being recorded in case I was denied and wanted to complain later! That was comforting.

Anyway, the moral of this story is to check with your health plan to see if they’ll pay for Noom. You might be pleasantly surprised. And who couldn’t use a little break during these tough financial times?


Coronavirus and the role of home health care

Home health has an important role to play in coronavirus. In the near term, clearing out hospitals to make room for acutely ill coronavirus patients means homecare needs to step up, and it’s important to keep moderately ill patients at home if at all possible. Eventually there will be reliable home testing for coronavirus, but sadly that day has not yet arrived –despite what you may have heard.

In this latest edition of #CareTalk, CareCentrix CEO John Driscoll and I discuss the latest on COVID-19.


By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Coronavirus: We are all in this together

In this edition of #CareTalk, Carecentrix CEO John Driscoll and I discuss the impact of COVID-19 in the US and around the world.  John retracts his earlier claim that the feds are doing a good job, and we go on to discuss the fact that we’re all in this together, universal coverage is a sensible policy, science matters, and government can help.

We agree with Tony Fauci, who said, “If it looks like you’re overreacting, you’re probably doing the right thing,” and we also look for signs of hope on the horizon (or just over it).


By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Lessons of Coronavirus: The Emperor has no clues

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No virus here, fellas

The COVID-19 coronavirus provides a valuable lens for viewing our healthcare system, society, and politics. Teachable moments like these are a rare occurrence, and I’m cautiously optimistic that people will take a fresh look at how they view the world.

Here are some lessons I see from the emerging crisis:

  1. We are all in this together. The virus affects the whole society. You can’t wall yourself off from it or blame it on “losers.” If we’re going to prevail we’ll all need to pull together, not pit ourselves against one another or allow our politicians to fan the flames.
  2. Universal coverage is a sensible policy. It seems crazy to people from other countries that Americans would hesitate to get tested for coronavirus because they were worried about how they would pay for the test or treatment.  It is crazy, but true. And never mind the fact that many can’t take sick leave.
  3. Science matters. The Administration has been systematically undermining scientists in and outside of the government. Climate change is a great example –where it’s convenient to believe what suits one’s politics, and the consequences won’t show up for a while. When it comes to corona, the problem is here now –or will be within weeks. Dissing the scientists and experts won’t work well. The public -for the most part– gets it.
  4. Government can help. In 2018, Trump dumped the head of global health security from the National Security Council and disbanded his team, “at a time… the country [was] already underprepared for the increasing risks of pandemic or bioterrorism attack.” CDC funding is being cut dramatically and local and state public health services have been starved for resources for years.
  5. The Emperor has no clues. Trump’s visit to the CDC was an embarrassment, in which he played his usual game of attacking politicians and the press, while showcasing his own narcissism. Maybe those who laughed it off or cheered it on in other circumstances will be more concerned when it has real implications for their health.  In any case, Presidential quotes like the following should be wearing a bit thing: “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for President.”

Next time I’ll write about some of the lessons that we may soon learn, about the virus, about democracy, and about the health of our society.


By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.