FAQ

Understanding Medical Weight Management

If your question is not here contact us

Contact

What is A Bariatrician or Obesity Specialist?

A BARIATRICIAN (Bariatric – Root word Baro, meaning heavy or large) is a doctor who specializes in the science and treatment of obesity and obesity related chronic diseases. Bariatricians ensure that weight loss methods are safe and effective and also provide long term continuity for bariatric surgery patients.

Bariatrician is different than a bariatric surgeon. Bariatric surgeons are doctors who specialize in surgical treatments for weight reduction such as gastric bypass surgery, sleeve gastectomy, and lap band.

What is Medical Weight Management?

Medical Weight Management refers to the medical treatment of obesity and excess weight by a licensed medical professional certified and licensed in obesity medicine. Medical management takes the whole person into account and examines the entire lifestyle, including genetics, nutrition, physical activity, behaviors, stress, medical history and medications.

Treatment solutions involve lifestyle counseling and accountability, treatment of underlying diseases causing obesity, FDA approved weight loss medications (where appropriate), meal replacement, and long term weight monitoring.

What types of patients are accepted in the clinic? Do I have to be in the medical field?

Dr. Covington sees patients over 14 years old with a BMI greater than 25 or any patient with a history of obesity or overweight. Dr. Covington’s patient’s pay out of pocket for medical service with the option for reimbursement through their insurance provider. Medicare patients are not accepted in the clinic at this time.

No. You do not have to be in the medical field to be a patient but the majority of Dr. Covington’s patients are medical and corporate professionals.

What happens at the Consultation (of first office visit) and how long will it last?

The consultation visit is required for all patients and visit packages, including the Meal Replacement Program.

 

This first visit is approximately 1 hour and involves a very detailed medical and obesity history. Your weight history, family history, eating habits and physical activity will be reviewed along with other areas of the Patient Intake. Any Patient Questionnaires and resources provided prior to the visit will be reviewed.

 

During the first visit you will receive a full body composition including an accurate fat percent, basal metabolic rate, lean muscle mass, and body measurements.

 

Do not Eat or Drink at least 2 hours prior to your office visit in order to get an accurate basal metabolic rate!

 

Please arrive on time. All patients are seen by appointment without double or triple booking and you should expect a no to very limited wait time before being seen.

 

You will receive a full medical physical examination. Most patients will have labs ordered and returned prior to the first visit (meal replacement patients will have labs ordered following the visit). Labs will require a visit to a laboratory service center for a blood draw. The lab center is chosen based on your convenience and preferred location, we will help arrange the visit but you must appear at your scheduled lab appointment time (see FAQ section Labs for more information).

 

Your weight management plan will commence at the first visit and will be based on a professional opinion of what is most suitable for you (both safe and effective).

 

Weight loss medications are not guaranteed for all patients and is also not required for all weight management plans.

What is the cost for office visits?

The first office visit, also called a Consultation, is $199. This covers an hour consultation with Dr. Covington, a full medical weight management visit, body composition, detailed obesity and medical history along with the personalized weight management plan. This visit price also includes a complimentary 15 minute virtual visit with Dr Covington.

Follow-up visits in the office are $85

Virtual or phone visits are $75

See Additional Pricing Info for more.

Please contact the office for any pricing details not listed on website.

What payments do you accept ?

We accept all major credit cards, cash, Health Spending Accounts (HSA) and Federal Savings Account cards (FSA). We also accept Care Credit (click here to pay your balance using your care credit card).

Invoices are sent online for patient convenience, these can be reconciled prior to arriving for the office visit.

PayPal can be used for online payments in the Protein & Supplement Store and for visit invoices (prior approval required to use PayPal for visit invoices).

We do not accept checks or medical insurance.

Do I need labs?

Absolutely.

Lab results are required for all weight management patients. If you have not had routine labs performed within 3 months, you will need new labs. If you have blood work please have your doctor fax the results to our office.

We do this to evaluate your health for our programs, and also to determine if there are any new (or unknown) diseases associated with your weight.

We do not perform labs in our office. All labs are performed at Lab Corp and/or Quest Diagnostics Service Centers. Consultation labs will be covered by the medical practice. We also repeat labs during the weight loss process, as your health changes as your weight decreases, we also do this to assess for electrolyte imbalances that may occur during the diet and exercise phase.

Virtual Package patients typically will not have labs ordered unless Dr. Covington determines it to be necessary. We will request a copy of your most recent labs. In the event that labs are required, we will arrange for you to have labs done in your area. The lab results will be electronically sent to our office and discussed with you over a virtual visit.

Repeat labs are not covered by the medical practice. We have a small fee for repeat labs or patients with insurance can use their medical insurance to cover this cost. We will arrange for the medical insurance company to be directly billed by the lab facility.

Why don’t you accept medical insurance?

Personal preference.

The truth is that insurance reimbursement for medical practices changes based on the insurance provider, patient and medical conditions, and many other factors. Insurance companies are not always fair and can be a huge barrier to allowing proper medical treatment.

We believe that patients should have the final say in choosing their medical doctors and should not be limited to who is “in-network”with insurance. We know that in-network doctors does not always mean great quality doctor.

We have witnessed patients leaving a medical office visit just to receive an unexpected bill weeks later. To avoid surprise expenses we inform each patient of the full amount for office visits in the form of an electronic invoice sent prior to the office visit.

Avoiding insurance payments and premiums means that Dr. Covington gets to spend more time with each patient, provide flexibility with services, and cultivate a close 1-on-1 patient-doctor relationship with every member of the practice.

What is Care Credit?

Care Credit health, wellness and beauty credit card

We’re pleased to accept the CareCredit healthcare credit card. CareCredit lets you say “yes” to recommend treatment and pay for it in convenient monthly payments that fit your budget.

CareCredit is the healthcare credit card designed exclusively for healthcare services with special financing options.* With CareCredit, you can use your card for all of your medical care.

Need to pay an outstanding balance using your Care Credit card, visit our Care Credit payment site here.

*Subject to credit approval. Minimum monthly payments required. Promotional financing options are available on purchases of $200 or more. Standard Account Terms apply to purchases of less than $200. Promotional financing options available through Pay My Provider may differ from options available in-office.

See carecredit.com for details.

Do you prescribe weight loss medication?

Weight loss medications are prescribed when appropriate. Only FDA approved, safe, effective, and evidence-based medications are used.

The use of weight loss medication is not guaranteed or required. Patients who prefer not to take medications do not have to. The visit price does not promise or include a weight loss medication.

Medical history, medical records, and blood work is REQUIRED before starting a new weight loss medication.

Follow-up visits are required to continue on a weight loss medication.

The price of weight loss medication is dependent on your insurance plan. Most insurance companies will require a “prior authorization” before receiving weight loss medication. Our office will complete do our best to work on these requests in a timely fashion but have no control over the insurance company coverage or the amount of time that it takes for you to receive your prescribed medication.

Where are you located?

Abundant Health & Vitality Associates is located in South Charlotte in the beautiful community South Park.

6135 Park South Drive Suite 510

We are in a 5-story white office building near the street.

There is plenty of free parking in the building complex. You can park in the Visitor’s Section in front of the building.

Once you enter the front glass entrance, walk through the lobby.

You will see elevators to either side. Take the elevator to the 5th floor.

Enter the waiting area on the 5th floor, let reception know that you have arrived for your appointment with Dr. Covington.

How often do you recommend patients follow-up after starting a medical weight loss progam?

Two of the most important keys to a successful weight loss program is accountability and continuity. It is very important that the program remain structured and consistent until you reach your goal weight. The visits for weight management programs can vary from weekly to every few months based on the patient, personalities, availability, and goals.

All patients will receive a complimentary virtual visit intended for 1-4 weeks following the initial visit.

Patients on a new medication should check in at least once a month.

Weight management patients with chronic medical conditions should check in every 3 months.

Weight management patients doing a program due to a serious ailment or need for elective surgery should check in bi-weekly to monthly.

Meal replacement patients are recommended to follow-up bi-weekly, especially when beginning the program (some of this is done virtually).

Wellness patients who are doing nutrition and exercise monitoring should check in anywhere from every week to every 3 months, depending on goals and experience.

Weight maintenance patients who have reached their goal weight should check in anywhere from 3 months to 6 months, depending on how long they have achieved the goal weight.

What is Meal Replacement and how does it work?

The concept behind meal replacement is meeting you where you are. No one can master the art of nutrition and eating over night, it is too complex. We understand that you want to start losing weight soon and just need a place to begin.

Meal replacement makes eating smaller portions, less food, more protein, and less sugar easier and more convenient, bringing you closer to your goal of losing weight.

You do not have to count calories or spend countless hours in the grocery store or meal prepping. You can start TODAY!

We guide you through the program and teach you important weight loss concepts that you will keep for a lifetime.

See the Meal Replacement Section for more detail.

Do you have to be a patient to order from the online Protein and Supplement Store?

No. The store is located on site and online and is a convenience for Abundant Health & Vitality Associate patients. The online store allows for patients to order their meal products online or order ahead and arrange for pick up in the clinic. Anyone in the United States can purchase from the online store.

Purchasing from the store does not constitute a patient-doctor relationship with Dr. Covington and FULL meal replacement programs are strong discouraged without physician supervision.

Can I use my HSA, FSA, or HRA for clinic purchases?

Disclaimer: Be sure to check with your HSA*, FSA**, or HRA*** custodians for more information. These accounts vary based on employer, insurance plan, deductible, and contributions. Some insurance plans do not allow use HSA until a very high deductible is met first. Check your plan for specific details.

If you are a patient of Dr. Covington and you have a HSA card the short answer is Yes! Your HSA card should work just like a credit card. If you do not have a HSA card but want to use funds from your HSA or FSA for reimbursement this is allowed for any services, clinic fees, or meal products that are related to obesity and/or another chronic condition associated with obesity. As a patient of Dr. Covington your necessity for use of your spending account will be properly documented by a certified and licensed medical professional. You may also be asked to complete specific insurance Forms from your insurance company for reimbursement.

If you are a Virtual Package patient with obesity, Dr. Covington will document your need for medical services, visit expenses, and meal products to cover costs used by your spending account. You will also receive Super Bills following each virtual visit, similar to clinic patients.

If you are purchasing exclusively from the Protein & Supplement Store and are NOT a patient of Dr. Covington, you will need to work with your physician on a Medical Necessity Letter or have your doctor document your need for weight loss services.

In addition to being able to use your health savings cards, you should also keep all store and office visit receipts for tax season. Items such as weight scales and other equipment can also be covered by spending accounts if the patient carries a diagnosis of obesity.

Please consult a tax professional or tax attorney for more detail.

Visit the IRS website for a detailed explanations on spending accounts. https://www.irs.gov/publications/p969/ar02.html

*Health Savings Account

**Flexible Spending Account

***Health Reimbursement Arrangement

Is a virtual visit right for me?

The virtual visit has been created as a convenience. There are times when you just can’t make it to the office. We understand!

You should consider a virtual office visit if you have extended questions or need more medical attention between in person visits. You should consider the virtual office package if you live more than 60 minutes from the practice. Some Abundant Health & Vitality packages have virtual office visits scheduled in.

Other Reasons for Virtual Office Visit

  • Difficult time staying on track
  • Need more accountability and frequent visits
  • Nervous about starting a new plan
  • New weight loss medication and a lot of questions
  • Difficult weight loss
  • Resistant weight loss
  • Need more support for life changing event i.e. bariatric surgery, Obera balloon insertion, etc

How do I schedule a virtual office visit?

There are 2 ways to schedule a virtual visit. 
New patients who are NOT looking to do the virtual visit package are required to schedule an in-office 1-on-1 consultation before becoming an established patient. This is a 1-hour medical visit and is very detailed and required before starting. 
Ways to schedule a virtual visit 
1. Established patients (patients who have had a visit with Dr. Covington) can login to the Patient Portal and select an appointment date and time, be sure to add VIRTUAL in the comments section or it will be assumed that you are coming into the office for your visit. 
2. Call office to schedule an appointment 
If interested in the virtual visit package – All visits are conducted virtually over the computer or phone. Must call the office to schedule (or you can send a request for more information via website and we will call you. See Contact Us section).
Your first visit will be a required consultation over the computer or mobile phone with Dr. Covington. This visit is not the full price of the in-person consultation and will cost $185. All other visits are based on your package. Virtual visits are $75 a visit. 

What are the steps once I schedule a virtual visit?

Once your virtual visit has been confirmed you will receive an email with detailed instructions on what to do next. The instructions will include how to connect, what software to download, and the date and time of your virtual visit.
Be sure to check your junk mail if you do not receive a confirmation within 24 hours.

Can you see patients outside of North and South Carolina virtually?

The state medical boards are very strict on outside providers giving medical treatments to their residents. Although medications are not offered for virtual only patients, it is important that medical advice from a licensed professional allow for the possibility of in-person follow-up or coordination of care, if needed.

Although we understand the different state’s positions on this requirement there are many professionals who provide services across state boundaries, with even less qualifications and training, so we do not fully agree with our services being prohibited.

Continue to check back periodically, as we are always researching state-by-state, the medical boards that allow outside doctors to conduct virtual office visits. We will update our website with new states as we discover them and offer virtual visit packages to potential states.

For patients out of NC or SC, please visit our Online Store for free resources. You are free to order from our Protein and Supplement Store as well.

What are the TECHNICAL requirements for setting up the virtual visit?

Be sure first that your virtual visit has been confirmed and that you have downloaded required software or received necessary visit links (as mentioned above in FAQ)
 To Optimize Computer Settings for Virtual Visits
  1. Internet Connection– To get great call quality, you’ll need a stable connection with enough bandwidth

For best results: 

Use a wired connection. If using WiFi, move close to the router to get a good signal. Close any other computer programs that might be using your connection

Internet speed requirements and recommendations 

For a standard video call, the minimum requirement is 1 megabyte per second (Mbps) upload and download speed. If you are unsure of your internet speed, conduct a speed test using www.Speedtest.net

  1. Your Computer and Mobile Devices-Your computer or devices software can affect your call. Make sure your computer/device is up to date and that you have downloaded any new systems updates.
Operating Systems for Best quality: 
Check  your computer’s/device’s Operating system compatibility
Windows desktops/laptops = Windows XP (Service Pack 3) or later. Works on Windows 10
Mac desktops/laptops = Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) or later
Apple Iphones and Ipads = iOS 8.0 or later
Android = 4.03 (Jelly bean) or later

What happens the day of the virtual office visit?

The morning of your virtual office visit – weigh yourself. Depending on your last visit you may also be asked to take body measurements (neck, waist, and hip).

Be on Time & Relax!

Choose a quiet, comfortable spot in a well-lit room

From your visit confirmation email click on the link that says “JOIN SESSION”

We recommend that you enter the online Waiting Room Page 10-15 minutes prior to your actual appointment time

If you have downloaded the software correctly it will automatically load. If your software has not been downloaded you will have a link on your computer to load the software.

The following should automatically connect once you enter the virtual visit:

Access to your Webcam and Microphone/headset

Other Important Tips:

For best video quality, use a light-colored background and make sure you don’t have bright light BEHIND you.

For best audio quality, limit background noise so that your voice can be clearly heard.

Use a headset if possible. This reduces ambient noise and echoing

Why should a bariatric surgery patient see you if you don’t do surgery?

Bariatric surgery patients need an extensive network of support and medical management and the bariatrician is a key member of the team. Bariatricians are often better trained and equipped than primary care doctors and surgeons to manage the specific long term needs for bariatric surgery patients. Bariatricians are the best resource for lifelong continuity, weight regain following bariatric surgery (when additional surgery is no longer the best option), coordination of care for chronic conditions, and the medical management that follows bariatric surgery.

Do you perform personal training?

No. It is recommended that anyone undergoing a fitness program be medically evaluated by a licensed physician. Personal trainers are great for workouts but do not diagnose or treat medical conditions and are not capable of determining what is going on inside of your body.

Although we do not provide personal training we work closely with a network of personal trainers and physical therapists around the Charlotte area and can recommend high quality and licensed trainers who carry out safe and effective fitness programs. We can match you with a trainer or program based on your weight loss goals, exercise style, and personality.

In addition we often post fitness events, resources, and classes in Charlotte and the surrounding area on our various social media platforms.

What is a Super Bill and how does it work?

A Super Bill is a medical visit receipt. It is an itemized list of all health related things done during the office visit. It includes topics, medical management, and procedures. This receipt is given to you following your visit, sent electronically in an encrypted email, and you will submit it to your insurance company for possible reimbursement.

Will I be reimbursed for my medical visit?

We hope so. This will depend on your insurance company and your premium. We do our best to maximize your chances of receiving insurance reimbursement by documenting all items discussed during your office visit but it is ultimately up to your insurance company to determine if you will be reimbursed.

It is important to know your insurance policy and understand how your insurance company operates. Some companies are very weight management friendly and others may not be.

In addition, insurance companies change their rules often, so it is important to stay up to date with the latest decisions from your insurance company.

Why aren’t Medicare patients accepted?

As a direct pay clinic we are legally not allowed to accept “cash” from Medicare patients. There are certain medical clinics that accept direct payments from Medicare patients and these clinics have gone through a lot of legal requirements, contracts, and paperwork to do so, we have opted to keep the process simple and low legal risk by not accepting Medicare patients at all.

We apologize for any inconvenience and wish that the laws restricting Medicare access to care were less strict.