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Big Baby Denied Insurance: Infant in 99th Percentile Considered "Obese"

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The parents of a breastfed four month old baby boy who is in the 99th percentile in height and weight were surprised to find that their insurance company will not cover any babies over the 95th percentile in weight, according to the Denver Post.

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.

The four month old’s supposed obesity makes him a risk.

Alex’s pre-existing condition — “obesity” — makes him a financial risk. Health insurance reform measures are trying to do away with such denials that come from a process called “underwriting.”

“If health care reform occurs, underwriting will go away. We do it because everybody else in the industry does it,” said Dr. Doug Speedie, medical director at Rocky Mountain Health Plans, the company that turned down Alex.

This decision was presumably based on the CDC growth charts. Exclusively breastfed babies can be more accurately gauged by the WHO charts.

Click on image to see comparison of WHO and CDC growth charts


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Reader Comments (9)

A trip to my feedreader showed that Lauredhel from Hoyden About Town honed in on the difference between the CDC charts and the WHO charts...


October 12, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill

this is just stupid! breastfed babies don't over eat!

October 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJaded

Ok, so that scares the hell out of me. My son was above the 95th percentile for weight as well...and after about 9 months (when he started walking) he started averaging out to now being in the 50th percentile since then (he is 2 and a half). That is just evil. Do you know if they are in the process of fighting it?

October 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

Among the many ridiculous parts of this story is the fact that if the baby is truly in the 99th percentile for height and weight, then his weight is perfectly proportionate to his height! So that doesn't even qualify him as being "obese!"

October 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBirthingBeautifulIdeas

My eldest has always been just as you describe...he started out at 9 pounds 6 and always was in the 90+ ratios for both height and weight. Exclusively breastfed and never given 'junk' or even cows milk products untill after a year. This is discusting because even a few ounces or an inch could mean the difference between 60 percentile and 80 percentile!

October 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi

My son was off the charts for height/weight proportionate...as in, above the 100th. His daddy was 6' 4" and he was perfectly healthy, just BIG. He is almost 4 but is as tall as many 1st graders. Our pediatricians were never the least concerned because it clearly was not a case of feeding him an all-Cheetos diet or something. What are these parents supposed to have done, fed him milkshakes in between breastfeedings? This is just absurd.

October 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteremjaybee

The whole denial of coverage for a supposed pre-existing condition of a four month old is just so weird. Especially an EBF four month old.

Did you see that they ended up covering him after the public outrage today?

October 12, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill

I also have a beef with the term "health care reform"...what they're talking about is health *insurance* reform! I would also agree with what BirthingBeautifulIdeas wrote. My son is in the 95th percentile (or higher) for height and weight. BUT when you calculate his BMI (which you can do since he's 4 1/2) his percentile for BMI plumets significantly. 4 months is a bit too soon to be calling someone "obese".

October 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPampered Mom

Even on the CDC charts, he's only around 90th percentile for weight. The 99th percentile comes from the fact that he's NOT 99th percentile for height at all, but rather 50th percentile, so he's 99th on the weight-for-height chart. Not that it matters, but the goof-up of the figures just makes the whole story even sillier. Some of the stories actually said that insurance companies may deny coverage based on a baby being over the 95th percentile in weight OR height, which is truly, truly nuts, right? Please tell me there isn't an obscure reason why babies who are TOO TALL could be called unhealthy?!

October 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHelen
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