Insurer: "Your Baby is Too Fat"

10.14.09 Health insurance firm has a change of heart after first rejecting coverage for chubby infant deemed too heavy.

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A Colorado insurance company is eliminating its ban on providing health coverage for infants considered too heavy for their length, The Denver Post reports.

The company's policy drew national attention when The Denver Post first reported this weekend on 4-month-old Alex Lange, whose family applied for health-care coverage last week with Rocky Mountain Health Plans of Grand Junction, Colo. Alex is 25 inches long and weighs 17 pounds, which puts him in the 99th percentile for his age according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

The family had coverage with another company but Alex's father, Bernie Lange, said the premiums were rising and was looking for a better situation.

"My insurance broker called me last week and said, "We can cover you, but your baby is too fat," Bernie Lange told the Denver newspaper. "I could understand if we control what he's eating. But he's 4 months old. He's breastfeeding. We can't put him on the Atkins diet or on a treadmill."

The insurance company, which uses the same CDC guidelines, concluded that Alex had a pre-existing condition because he was above the 95th percentile and considered obese. The Langes said they are happy with Alex's healthy appetite and progress; his pediatrician has never mentioned any weight concerns and considers him "happy and healthy."

A Rocky Mountain Health Plans spokeswoman said that it found a flaw in its underwriting system and now will provide coverage to healthy infants, regardless of their weight. "As a small company, we were able to act quickly and decisively. We are really pleased we are going to be covering Alex and other healthy babies," the spokeswoman said.

Seventeen-pound Alex isn't the first case we've ever heard—and certainly not the last. Our Ask the Experts section previously received a question about whether having a big baby means having a chubby child later on. In most situations, size does matter: Here are answers to some of the most common questions about your baby's birth weight. And once you wean your baby and it's time for big-kid meals, check out our tips on how to raise a healthy eater. (Surprise! It starts while you're still pregnant!)

Remember, health insurance is an absolute necessity when you have a family. But in these current economic times, dealing with health insurers can be tricky. Read our Ask the Labor Nurse blogger's take on affording health care and other tough decisions.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.