Breastfeeding infant labeled obese, denied health insurance

Breastfed babies can be long and lean, short and fat, or anywhere in between. But I never heard of an insurance company citing a breastfeeding infant’s “obesity” as a pre-existing condition before reading this story from the Denver Post:

By the numbers, [four-month-old] Alex [Lange] is in the 99th percentile for height and weight for babies his age. Insurers don’t take babies above the 95th percentile, no matter how healthy they are otherwise. […]

Bernie and Kelli Lange tried to get insurance for their growing family with Rocky Mountain Health Plans when their current insurer raised their rates 40 percent after Alex was born. They filled out the paperwork and awaited approval, figuring their family is young and healthy. But the broker who was helping them find new insurance called Thursday with news that shocked them.

” ‘Your baby is too fat,’ she told me,” Bernie said.

Up until then, the Langes had been happy with Alex’s healthy appetite and prodigious weight gain. His pediatrician had never mentioned any weight concerns about the baby they call their “happy little chunky monkey.” […]

“I’m not going to withhold food to get him down below that number of 95,” Kelli Lange said. “I’m not going to have him screaming because he’s hungry.”

Good call, Mrs. Lange. There is “no evidence to support ‘dieting’ or substituting other foods or liquids for human milk to reduce weight gain.”

It’s outrageous for an insurance company to use Alex’s weight at four months of age as an excuse to deny coverage. Not that exclusions for other “pre-existing conditions” (such as a benign heart murmur that a child would grow out of without treatment) are any more defensible.

Also, the Lange family wouldn’t have been shopping around for new coverage if their previous carrier hadn’t raised their rates by 40 percent after Alex was born. I remember our insurance premiums went up quite a bit after our second child was born, but I don’t think it was by that much. Then again, they went up 10 percent last year even without any new babies or health problems in our family.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

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