UPDATE: Rocky Mountain Health Plans has now said it will cover Alex Lange, a baby they previously refused to give health insurance because of his weight.
"A recent situation in which we denied coverage to a heavy, yet healthy, infant brought to our
attention a flaw in our underwriting system for approving infants," says Steve ErkenBrack, president and CEO, Rocky Mountain Health Plans. "Because we are a small company dedicated to the people of Colorado, we are pleased to be in a position to act quickly. We have changed our policy, corrected our underwriting guidelines and are working to notify the parents of the infant who we earlier denied."
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Four-month-old Alex Lange is described as a "happy, adorable, big baby." Yet he can't get health insurance.
Rocky Mountain Health Plans refuses to cover little Alex because he's too large. Grand Junction's NBC11News.com reports:
Because of his size, Baby Alex was turned down for health insurance, his height and weight put him in the 99th percentile according to CDC guidelines.
Kelli [his mother] says it's ridiculous, "It's frustrating, it's very frustrating."
Dr. Speedie at Rocky Mountain Health Plans says all babies are evaluated for insurance the same way. "In children it's based on a combination of height and weight."
The health insurance reform legislation moving through Congress would end this practice of denying coverage based on "pre-existing conditions" -- in Alex's case, "obesity."
The Denver Post has more:
"I could understand if we could control what he's eating. But he's 4 months old. He's breast-feeding. We can't put him on the Atkins diet or on a treadmill," joked his frustrated father, Bernie Lange, a part-time news anchor at KKCO-TV in Grand Junction. "There is just something absurd about denying an infant."
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.
UDPATE: Bernie, Kelli, and baby Alex will all appear on MSNBC's Ed Show on Monday evening.
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