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Wisconsin penalizes smokers for their burden to the healthcare system, why not fat people too? What do you think? Is this a personal choice, or does it become a public problem when obese people drive up the costs of everyone’s insurance rates?
Many questions arise as to whom we would consider obese and what “penalty” would we assess to them. Not every “fat” person will have a disease or health problem, but they are more susceptible to Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and the like. Should we just increase their premiums when they do show signs of common obese symptoms or as soon as they hit the “mark” on the scale?
We penalize smokers, make them sit out in the cold, despite establishments who don’t mind them being in their businesses. Can you imagine sitting at your favorite restaurant and having someone “tattle” on you for eating a fried dish? Where would it end? Banning fried foods, taxing kool-aid and juices that are high-fructose? Starting to sound a little racist possibly?
It makes sense to start attributing the extra costs to those who burden the system. However, if we start creating more taxes such as these, what other things can we add to the list?
From the Los Angeles Times
“Offering incentives for lifestyle choices likely to cut medical costs is an idea worth considering.”
“If an individual’s body mass index isn’t a purely personal matter, what is? We have the right to choose between healthy food or junk food, even if the latter is more likely to result in obesity and related health problems. But once our choices affect others, there’s a natural conflict between individual freedom and social responsibility. In a nation where rising healthcare costs and diminished access to medical care are issues of grave concern, personal decisions are no longer strictly private. The treatment of obesity- and smoking-related disease is tremendously expensive, which in turns drives up health insurance premiums for everyone, as well as raising the costs for Medicaid, Medicare and health coverage for public employees.
We prefer the approach most recently proposed in Arizona, where officials hope to levy a $50 annual fee on some Medicaid patients who don’t take steps to improve their health. It is vague at this point how the proposal would work, who would be liable for the fee and under what circumstances; but some examples mentioned are obese patients who fail to follow their doctors’ plans for losing weight, smokers who shun programs to help them quit the habit or certain diabetes patients who ignore medical advice on lifestyle changes that would improve their lab results.
There’s the inevitable complaint that some smokers and overeaters live long and healthy lives and yet would have to pay the surcharge. That’s true enough, but the statistics are against them, and that should be reflected in insurance costs. Smoking and obesity greatly increase the risk of chronic and life-threatening health problems that in many cases are preventable, including stroke, cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It makes sense to tie higher preventable risk to higher premiums. Not all rock climbers have serious accidents, either, but they still pay more for life insurance, when they can find it.”