FAQ

Understanding Medical Weight Management

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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 not the same as a different bariatric surgeon. Bariatric surgeons are doctors who specialize in surgical treatments for weight reduction such as gastric bypass surgery, sleeve gastectomy, and the 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 in obesity medicine. Medical management takes the “whole” person into account and examines lifestyle, genetics, nutrition, physical activity, behaviors and emotions, 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), partial and full 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 during the New Patient Visit ? How long does it last?

The new patient visit or initial consultation is required for all patients and visit packages (with the exception of functional or food sensitivity testing), 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 all be reviewed during the visit and used to come up with a personalized weight management plan. All patients complete a detailed Patient Intake or Medical Questionnaire prior to the new patient visit.

 

During the first visit you will receive a full body composition including an accurate fat percent, basal metabolic rate, lean muscle mass, body water measurement, bone 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; therefore, you can expect no wait to a very limited wait time for visit appointments.

 

You will receive a full medical physical examination. Most Some patients may have labs ordered prior to the first visit based on the time of latest labs. Labs will require a visit to a laboratory center for a blood draw. Medical insurance can be used to cover lab expenses or patients can pay for wholesale lab pricing from our clinic (usually cheaper than full sale lab pricing). The lab center is chosen based on your convenience and preferred location, we encourage scheduling with the lab ahead of time to reduce wait times (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 New Patient Visit is $199. This covers a 1 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). We accept Apple Pay.

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

PayPal or credit cards 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.We may repeat some lab values during the weight loss process, these labs will be discussed with you and are repeated to ensure your proper monitoring throughout the weight loss process.

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?

Clinic preference.

The truth is that insurance reimbursement for medical practices changes based on the insurance company, the patient, the medical conditions, and many other factors. Insurance companies can be a huge barrier to proper medical treatment and we believe that they should not dictate the choices that our patients have for medical weight management. We want our patients to receive adequate treatment, not because of what insurance is willing to pay, but based on what they deserve.

We believe that patients should have the final say in choosing their medical doctors and should not be limited to “in-network” services or providers. In-network doctors does not automatically mean high quality doctor.

Patients deserve medical care without surprises! There is nothing worse than “assuming” insurance covers a service just to receive an outstanding medical bill 3 months later.

 

At Abundant Health & Vitality Associates, patients receive all medical costs and expenses up front, there are no hidden fees, no expected bills.

Avoiding insurance payments, premiums, and patient required deductibles means that Dr. Covington gets to spend more time with each patient, provide flexible service, and cultivate a close 1-on-1 patient-doctor relationship with every member of the practice. We believe that this is priceless.

What is Care Credit?

CareCredit is the healthcare credit card designed exclusively for healthcare services with special financing options.

Pay outstanding service balance using your Care Credit card? , visit our Care Credit payment site here.

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 do our best to complete these requests in a timely fashion but have no control over the insurance company’s 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 available. 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 of the hallway. Take the elevator to the 5th floor.

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

 

Need directions to Abundant Health & Vitality Associates Medical Weight Loss Clinic? 

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 are 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 month but is ultimately based on the patient, personalities, availability, and weight loss goals.

All patients will receive a complimentary virtual visit intended for 1-3 weeks following the initial visit.

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

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

Wellness patients who are doing nutrition and exercise monitoring should check in anywhere from weekly to every few months, depending on how much weight needs to be lost.

Weight maintenance patients who have reached their goal weight typically check in every 6-12 months based on how long they have maintained their 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 Protein and Supplement Store?

No. The store is located in the clinic and online. The online store can be used for patients to order products online for delivery directly to their homes or for pick up in the clinic during office visits. The online store is also available for anyone in the United States to purchase our delicious meal replacement products. Online products can be used for meal replacement or as protein meals and snacks.

Purchasing from the store does not constitute a patient-doctor relationship with Dr. Covington and FULL meal replacement programs are strongly discouraged without physician supervision. NC and SC residents too far from the clinic can join the meal replacement program virtually and schedule online follow-up visits with Dr Covington.

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 employee contribution. Some insurance plans do not allow HSA use until a high deductible is met first. Check your plan for specific details.

If you are a patient of Dr. Covington and wish to use a HSA or FSA account you can do so for any clinic or online service, our office will ensure that you receive the proper documentation following each clinic visit. The HSA card should works just like a credit card and can be used for electronic payments, clinic invoices, and in-clinic purchases.

The same applies for virtual patients, Dr. Covington will document your need for medical services, visit expenses, and meal products to cover costs used by your HSA or FSA expense account.

If you are purchasing 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 may be reimbursable for patients with obesity, overweight, or any chronic conditions related to weight.

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 clinic visits. You should consider the virtual office package if you live more than 60 minutes from the practice.

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?

Virtual visits can be scheduled as part of the Virtual Package or as individual visits and are only allowed for patients located in North and South Carolina*. Virtual packages can be purchased in 3 ($427), 6, 9, or 12 month increments.
The Virtual Package includes a 45 minute online new patient visit with Dr Covington. All virtual visits are private, confidential, and HIPAA protected.
Weight loss medications are not allowed for Virtual Package patients UNLESS the new patient visit and the first follow-up visits are conducted in person in the clinic.
Schedule virtual visit or virtual visit package here.
Please call the office at 704-997-9661 for more information on the virtual visit packages and additional pricing.
*Currently virtual visits are only allowed in North and South Carolina, we will update this list as it expands.

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
Windows desktops/laptops = Windows XP (Service Pack 3) or later. Works on Windows 10
  1.  date and that you have downloaded any new systems updates.
Operating Systems for Best quality: 
Check  your computer’s/device’s Operating system compatibility
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 with the meeting address, if connecting through the phone app click the button that says “JOIN SESSION”

We recommend that you enter the online Waiting Room 10-15 minutes prior to your scheduled 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.

Access to the webcam and microphone should connect automatically after entering the virtual visit, if it fails to do so be sure to manually connect your devices:

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 procedures performed during the office visit and can be used to request reimbursement from your insurance company for out of pocket health expenses.

Will I be reimbursed for my medical visit?

We hope so. This will depend on your insurance company and required deductible. We do our best to maximize your chances of receiving insurance reimbursement 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 whether they reimburse for bariatric services. Some insurance 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 not allowed to accept “cash payments” from Medicare patients. There are certain medical clinics that accept direct payments from Medicare patients and these clinics have gone through legal requirements and paperwork to do. We have opted to keep the process simple 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.