Nothing brings a smile to an adult's face quicker than the sight of a happy, chubby baby.
But the sight of 4-month-old Alex Lange, who measures 25-inches long and weighs 17 pounds, is bringing a frown to the hypothetical face of insurance company Rocky Mountain Health Plans, The Denver Post reported on its Web site Monday.
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Underwriters, the people who are in charge of assessing risk for insurance companies, have decided that baby Alex's pre-existing condition — obesity — makes him a high-risk patient and have denied him coverage.
His parents were shocked.
"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 with Rocky Mountain Health Plans when their current insurer raised their rates 40 percent after Alex was born.
After filling out the necessary paperwork, the broker who was helping the family find new insurance called last Thursday with the shocking news that Alex, who weighed 8 1/4-pounds at birth, was being denied coverage.
At 17 pounds, Alex is in the 99th percentile for height and weight for babies his age. His parents were told insurance companies don't take babies above the 95th percentile, no matter how healthy.
Dr. Doug Speedie, medical director at insurance company Rocky Mountain Health Plans, told KKCO-TV, it’s possible for a baby to be above the 95 percentile and still be healthy, and admitted the system is flawed.
“Your weight is not an absolute determinate of health," Speedie said. “Unfortunately when we try to sell people insurance, a number has to be used as a cutoff."