People often have questions about our process. Here are some of the most common ones. Don’t see your question? Contact us! We’re happy to answer any questions you have.
What can I expect at my first visit?
Just like with a regular doctor’s visit, you will review your health history, especially things that relate to excess weight. Naturally, there will be a little bit of paperwork to do, but it can all be done via email prior to the visit. During that visit, you and the doctor will decide what type of treatment you will start with – most definitely a nutrition plan and possibly medications and/or supplements.
We will meet with you in the office, one-on-one. To help with social distancing, we ask that you come to your visit alone – without additional family members. We do require you to wear a mask while you are in the office.
We perform a limited physical exam, check vitals and perform a body composition analysis on everyone at their first visit – a painless evaluation of the body to determine body fat percentage. Some of the anti-obesity medications require some patients to undergo an EKG prior to taking them. If you and the doctor decide to make one of these medications part of your treatment plan, you may undergo an EKG in the office that day. This is painless and is covered by insurance.
If you have recent labs, you are welcome to bring them with you and the doctor will review them. If she needs anything more to better understand your body, she will order those labs to be drawn at an outside lab.
How many follow-up visits will I have?
We won’t know this until we get there! Every body is unique and everyone’s weight-loss journey is individual.
At the beginning of the program, while we are still gathering information and trying to figure out what works for you, we typically see you weekly. Once we get on track, we typically space visits out to every other week and eventually to monthly. Some of our patients prefer to be seen weekly or every other week during active weight loss for accountability.
Once you get to your goal weight or decide that you are through trying to lose weight, we transition into weight maintenance. At the beginning of weight maintenance, as we transition to a different way of eating, we often see you a little more often and then gradually space our visits back out again.
Our goal is to get you to a point that you no longer need us – but everyone reaches that point at a different time.
How long do the programs take?
This is a tricky one to answer. It depends upon a lot of things; how much weight you want to lose, how long you have had your excess weight, what other medical issues we have to address, how well you adhere to the program and so on and so forth.
Keeping in mind that the human body has limitations – both physically and mentally, we try to set realistic goals and expectations. In our experience, most people lose about 20% of their starting weight and then they often plateau. When this happens, most people get weary of intense effort and want to transition to maintenance and start working on preventing weight regain. The average amount of time for this is 6 months – but again, people are unique. Some people lose more than 20% and some are content to lose less than that. Some people lose quickly and some more slowly.
Who does Heartland Weight Loss partner with?
We partner with YOU! Active participation in a weight-loss program is essential for success. There is no magic pill or single behavior that will result in long-term weight loss alone. We will guide you, educate you and empower you in your weight loss efforts. However, when you leave our office, it’s up to you. You must put this knowledge into action.
We partner with your Primary Care Physician: Although we may be experts in the treatment of obesity and may spend a lot of time focusing on obesity-related illnesses, your primary care physician (PCP) is still the captain of the ship when it comes to your health. We will update your PCP about your health status and provide them a copy of your lab results. We may make recommendations about medication changes as your health improves. Routine health maintenance such as vaccinations, mammograms, colonoscopies, Pap smears and other screening tests should be continued while you are on our program. Furthermore, your PCP is still your go-to person to address medical problems unrelated to obesity – we don’t have the equipment to assess you for an ear infection or an ankle fracture.
We partner with psychologists: There is a ton of data demonstrating that obesity is not simply the result of sloth and gluttony. However, because obesity is not a disease that can be hidden behind closed doors and carries many stigmas, individuals that struggle with excess weight are often victims of bullying and fat-shaming. Because of this, many people with obesity have decreased self-esteem and/or sense of self-worth.
Patients suffering from the disease of obesity have much higher rates of depression and anxiety. Eating disorders (especially binge eating disorder) are common.
During the process of weight loss, many of these issues can become barriers to success and may need to be addressed individually. Furthermore, successful weight loss requires long-term changes in lifestyle behaviors and attitudes. Integrating new behaviors into family and workplace culture can be difficult and overwhelming. If the food environment can’t be changed, patients have to change their way of fitting into their toxic food environment.
We work closely with several psychologists with advanced training in obesity and active participation is often necessary for long-term success.
Does Heartland Weight Loss take insurance?
YES! Heartland Weight Loss is in network with all major commercial insurance plans! Unfortunately, understanding your insurance plan and benefits can be complicated.
When corporations choose a health plan for their employees, they have the option to decline coverage for certain services – like weight management. There can be restrictions on which of their participants may utilize a certain service. However, since we do so much more than weight management, it usually isn’t a significant deterrent. If we are treating your chronic disease or physical symptoms, that’s a whole different story than simply helping you change the number on the scale.
If you aren’t certain of your health benefits, feel free to call your insurance company and talk it through with them before your visit.
We collect standard copays from our patients and submit the visits to insurance like other medical offices. If you have a plan that we don’t contract with or if it turns out that you do not have in-network benefits for obesity treatment, we have very reasonable cash prices for our services.
How will I know if my visits will be covered by my health insurance?
Navigating the world of health insurance is tricky. We can never answer this one exactly because we don’t know the details of your individual plan. We can tell you that we are in network for all of the major commercial insurance plans.
If you have a traditional health insurance plan, you will likely have a copay for your visits – the same copay that you have at other doctors’ offices.
If you have a high deductible plan, meaning that everything medical is out of pocket until you hit a certain dollar amount, you will likely have to pay up front for your visits – just like you would have to do at another doctor’s office. However, once that deductible or out of pocket maximum is met, you will only be responsible for whatever copay or coinsurance is specified by your plan.
We encourage you to talk to your insurance company about these issues prior to making your first appointment.
Now, although this seems illogical, many insurance companies will not pay for treatment of obesity. If you ask them, you will likely be told that you don’t have coverage for weight-loss services.
Fortunately (or unfortunately!), most people that struggle with excess weight have other health problems related to their excess weight; such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver, diabetes, sleep apnea, fatigue, depression, binge eating disorder, reflux, arthritis – and a whole host of other related diagnoses. Treatment for these problems is typically covered. Heck, there are insurance codes for abnormal weight gain, polyphagia (excessive appetite), and lack of physical exercise – and typically these are also covered.
You’re not alone if it doesn’t make sense to you! We don’t make the rules, but since we typically work on addressing all of these obesity-related issues, we typically submit visits to insurance with these diagnoses as primary and the diagnosis of obesity as secondary.
If you have a government-sponsored insurance plan that we don’t contract with (like Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare or one of the plans on the exchange), we have a very reasonable cash price for our services.