Something that we haven’t talked about yet—but which others have, of course—is the proposed increase in health insurance costs in Alabama, directed at the overweight. That is, you have one year to get “healthy” and if you fail, you have to pay an extra $25 per month in health insurance. From Wallet Pop:
So, what’s “healthy” according to the state of Alabama? Anyone with a BMI (body mass index) less than 35. Employees will also have to submit baseline readings for their cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose—three other factors considered critical indicators of “health”…
The program will allow employees to see a doctor for free, be screened for free, and have the chance to enroll in wellness programs, Weight Watchers, etc. And as long as they show progress in a follow-up screening they won’t be charged.
Fox News released a lengthy story about this earlier in the week:
This is a dreadful, dreadful policy,” said Judith S. Stern, an obesity expert and nutrition professor at University of California at Davis. “Overweight and obese people, especially women, feel that their weight is private, and being weighed at work is like having a prostate exam in the hall. It’s not appropriate”…
Medical and social considerations aside, other critics say it’s just not going to work. “There’s the thought that obese people are weak-willed, and if we charge them more they won’t be as fat,” Stern said. “This assumes they have control over what’s involved, and often they don’t”…
And there’s the cost factor. In its efforts to reduce heath care costs Alabama will spend an extra $1.6 million for health screenings and programs next year.
So, a great idea, then! Hey, why don’t other states join in?
Clarian Health Partners, a hospital chain in Indiana, has taken a different approach. In 2009, they will start deducting money from the paychecks of workers who do not meet — and don’t show efforts to meet — various health criteria. Smoking without trying to quit will cost $5; high glucose, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels will cost $5 each; a high Body Mass Index will cost $10.
My first thought was that this extra charge is disproportionately penalizing, yet again, the economically underprivileged. The link between poverty and obesity is clear, and states with higher poverty levels have corresponding higher obesity levels—Alabama being, of course, one of these states. (And that’s without bringing race into the equation at all, although it is a factor in BMI calculations…)
It is those people—the obese poor—who will be hit the hardest by this $25 per month surcharge, which is a significant amount of money to many working people with modest incomes. In addition to everything else that’s wrong here, this strikes me as the wrongest part of all.
Posted by mo pie