Health Coaching has been around as a profession for many years, so why is this new certification such a big deal? Let me explain…
Coaching as a Profession
Coaching has been around a long time, there are sports coaches, career coaches, life coaches, nutrition coaches, and in the past 10 years health coaches have come on the scene. There were never any guidelines as to who could call themselves a coach. You can choose to coach your child’s baseball team and suddenly you are a coach. You could have developed a way to help people organize their lives to reach their goals faster and you can call yourself a life coach. There are many great coaches out there without specific degrees or certifications helping many people on a daily basis. Some have certifications from their specific school and that helps people looking for a particular kind of coaching feel more confident in choosing them. There are many programs out there offering Health Coaching certifications, a quick google search turns up a dizzying amount. The problem is that there wasn’t a recognized standard until now. There wasn’t a way to know that the coach was being held to the highest standards deemed necessary by the American Medical Association until now. There was not a path for insurance coverage until now.
What does a National Certification for Health and Wellness Coaches actually mean?
The American Medical Association (AMA) defines a Health and Wellness Coach as a “non-physician health care professional certified by the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaches” (NBHWC). The NBHWC was created in early 2010 due to Health and Wellness Coaching being a growing profession that was in dire need of training and education standards. Over several years of research, they developed these standards and competencies by recording what was most effective in helping people make lasting lifestyle and behavior changes in their lives. In 2016 the NBHWC teamed up with the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) to create a standard supported by a certification exam and research. The NBME is the organization that determines what medical doctors need to do to obtain and maintain their medical license. So, creating a Health Coaching Certification backed by the NBME gave much needed credit and legitamacy to the Health and Wellness Coaching profession. Certifications up to this point had been left up to the individual school and each school decided what were the most important aspects of coaching. Now, in order for students from a Health and Wellness training program to be eligible to sit for the National Board Certification Exam, the school must base it’s curriculum on these research based – proven methods that were quatified by the NBHWC and NBME.
Wait, did you say insurance coverage for Health and Wellness Coaching?
Why, yes I did! Starting in January 2020, Nationally Board Certified Health and Wellness Coaches will have the ability to use category 3 insurance codes. These codes will not yet allow for insurance reimbursement for Health Coaching, but it is the first step in reaching that goal. The good news for the short term is that since we have started down this path towards insurance reimbursement, most insurances will allow you to use your Healthcare Savings Account (HSA) to pay for coaching services if they have been provided by a nationally accredited coach. Of course, please check with your individual insurance carrier to be certain. These codes are a critical first step in showing that the AMA and medical establishment view Health and Wellness Coaching as a legitimate and important profession.