If You’re Obese or Smoke, You Have to Pay More for Health Care …

In Life! on October 20, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Two months ago, citizens, young and old alike, were yelling and shouting down senators and representatives at  townhall meetings.  While watching the ruckus on CNN, Ebony made a very good point:   Why are people getting mad at Obama for problems that they did to themselves?  They can’t blame him for their health problems.  They shouldn’t have smoked, or ate too much, and neglected themselves when they were young.  It’s their fault that they are the way they are now so they should stop blaming the President.

The next thing I hear is that North Carolina passed a bill stating that people who are obese or smoke will have to pay more for health insurance.

To be honest, I am not within the normal range for the BMI.  And I don’t think most people are.  I calculated my BMI and am considered slightly overweight on the standard scale.  Unfortunately, the BMI is not the best way to measure “normal.”  Or is it?  Although, the BMI does not take into consideration bone density and muscle mass, it does give us some way to keep ourselves in check (you can’t say you’re a golf ball, if you’re really a basket ball).

Perhaps I am in denial and do need to lose a good 15 pounds, despite my my schoolmate’s comment, “Tiffany, you can’t trust the BMI.  You look good.”  With my 5’1” stature, I should be 105 pounds.  At least that’s what the BMI says.   But, I’m not.  I suppose if other states start to pass a similar bill, it’s a good thing that they are targeting obese people instead of overweight people or else I would be charged extra.

On the other hand, who is to regulate how we live our life?  Should the actions of our youth predict our treatment in the future?  That’s a little 1984 Orwellian to me.

Would this costly bill encourage social responsibility to stay healthy and live a healthier lifestyle?

Or would this just be another way for Big Brother (the government) to keep watch and control?

What do you think?  Obsolete When All Are Employed welcome your comments!

  1. To be honest- I agree with the initiative, which may seem counterintuitive, because I am overweight myself. There will be arguments for and against this for quite a while, I’m sure, because there is still no concrete evidence as to whether weight is tied to your genes, or chemicals in your body or is purely environmental (although I think we can easily agree that much of weight gain is due to overeating and underexercising). Where I think this is fair is that, yes, obese people and smokers SHOULD pay higher premiums due to the fact that these are the two leading factors in heart disease, which is the leading cause of death and hospitalization in the United States. It’s much like someone with a pre-existing condition- health insurance companies will accept these patients only with a higher premium/deductible, if at all. The health insurance companies realize that they will be paying more for these patients in the long run because they have a higher probability of landing themselves in a hospital. Smokers and the obese have a higher probability of landing themselves in a hospital as well. Why should I, as a non-smoker, have to pay for what someone else willingly does to destroy their own body (and don’t argue that it doesn’t)? Someone else could say the same thing about my extra pounds- why should they have to pay for the risk I’m taking by eating that extra piece of chocolate cake?

    To take it one step further, the Cleveland Clinic, one of the highest rated hospitals in this country has put it into policy that THEY WILL NOT HIRE smokers- their logic is much the same. Smokers have a history of asthma, diabetes, heart and lung related issues, and cancer- why would someone willingly hire someone who they know has a higher probability of calling in sick, performs less on the job, and if hospitalized, drives up everyone who works at that company’s insurance premiums, and delays their own patients’ surgeries/appointments? Delos M. Cosgrove, the heart surgeon who is the clinic’s chief executive, even went as far to say that if he had his choice, he wouldn’t employ the morbidly obese either.

    So what does all this mean? The Clinic may be passing up a talented pool of people because of their bad habits… but perhaps it would convince those people to change their habits- and really, I think this is what this is all about. The Cleveland Clinic offers “quit smoking” campaigns to their current employees who were grandfathered in to the clause, they offer free gym memberships to their employees, and free enrollment in Weight Watchers- so they are helping as they can, to reduce health insurance costs for everyone that works there, and support a helathy lifestyle among their employees. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a healthy looking (and actually healthy) doctor working on me. … Read More

    America has become a truly obese country- look at the numbers, they don’t lie. Check this out from the new York Times: “people in their 50s are about 20 pounds heavier on average than 50-somethings were in the late 1970s. As a convenient point of reference, a typical car tire weighs 20 pounds…A recent article in Health Affairs estimated the annual cost of obesity to be $147 billion and growing. That translates into $1,250 per household, mostly in taxes and insurance premiums- that’s 9.1% of annual U.S. Medical costs- all due to obesity.”

    I, for one, am interested in seeing how this will all turn out, and if, in the end, some tough love will make us all healthier.

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