Shantanu Gaur has been inspired and driven by his parents, brilliant and independent-thinking immigrants from India. When it came time to choose between a career as a physician or as an entrepreneur, his mathematician father helped him calculate how many people he could help and what would happen if he failed.
As co-founder and CEO of Allurion Technologies, Shantanu has helped develop and launch balloons –not into the sky but into the stomach– where they help patients feel full and lose weight. The product is on the market in Europe and the Middle East, and there are plans for the US and China as well.
Allurion is succeeding where other weight loss balloons have failed. The company’s balloons can be swallowed and filled in an office visit –not an operating room– and are paired with nutritional counseling and a digital support system.
Weight loss is a top New Year’s resolution. Noom is a great app with human coaching to help people lose weight and keep it off. Noom can be expensive, but can you get Noom for free? Does health insurance pay for Noom? In my case the answer was yes.
At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, weight loss reimbursement is offered alongside fitness reimbursement. They’ve made it much easier to understand since I requested reimbursement last year.
Here’s the FAQ for “What qualifies for weight loss reimbursement?”
Participation fees for hospital-based programs and in-person Weight Watchers sessions
Participation fees for Weight Watchers and other non-hospital programs (in-person or online) that combine healthy eating, exercise, and coaching sessions with certified health professionals such as nutritionists, registered dietitians, or exercise physiologists.
Notice, Noom isn’t officially named on the list even though Weight Watchers (not nearly as good as Noom) is. But I called Blue Cross and they told me Noom was reimbursed. When I submitted my request for reimbursement online it was paid right away.
This is the best of all benefits because there’s no co-pay, no co-insurance, no prior authorization and it doesn’t come out of my deductible.
Here’s the simple form I filled out online in 2020:
Does your plan pay for Noom? I don’t know, but it might. And it should. Losing weight and keeping it off is a win-win. It makes you healthier and saves the health plan money on medical costs.
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!
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
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?