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Should Obese People And Smokers Pay Higher Healthcare Premiums?

Given that the carrot hasn't seemed to work, will pocketbook punishment succeed?

Is your employer charging workers who are obese or smoke more in healthcare costs?

Several news outlets have published articles claiming some mid- and large-size companies are zapping those who won’t quit smoking or who won’t lose weight. According to an Oct. 31, 2011 U.S. News and World Report article, beginning in 2012, the discount giant Walmart began charging employees who use tobacco higher premiums, but the retailer is also offering free quit-smoking programs.

“Tobacco users consume about 25 percent more healthcare services than non-tobacco users,” Greg Rossiter, a spokesman for Walmart, told U.S. News and World Report. "The decisions aren't easy, but we need to balance costs and provide quality coverage."

Obesity is also a costly concern. According to a study from the Campaign to End Obesity, the economic impact of obesity in the United States is actually twice the amount previously estimated -- and exceeds the costs of even smoking. The myriad health issues associated with obesity do lead to higher health insurance premiums  -- for everyone, CBS News reports in an April 30, 2012 piece on the study.

“The U.S. spends an excess of $190 billion a year,” CBS said the study found.

While most agree smoking and obesity are unhealthy, not everyone agrees that those who indulge should pay more. In an Aug. 3, 2012 opinion piece published on Slate, writer Amanda Marcotte says, “The brutal reality is that the reason a lot of adults are fat is that they were fat as children. Research shows that obese children are at least twice as likely to be fat adults as non-obese children. Children aren't generally recognized in our culture as fully capable decision-makers.”

Marcotte goes on to argue that parents are to blame for overweight kids and that “charging adult fat people higher premiums to punish them for what we all accept is the parent's fault is simply unfair.”

Marcotte cites an in-depth New Times Magazine article, “The Fat Trap,” which chronicles just how hard it is to lose weight and keep it off.

But the NY Times Magazine article also points to what most people seem to agree on, no matter what they weigh: There is an urgent obesity problem in this country.

“A third of the U.S. adult population," the Dec. 28, 2011 NY Times Magazine article contends, "[is] classified as obese.”

Given that the carrot hasn't seemed to work -- lose weight, feel better -- will pocketbook punishment succeed?

Anon September 28, 2012 at 04:05 PM
She has had 4 years to make a difference. I haven't seen much difference except her dissing our flag!
andy September 28, 2012 at 04:05 PM
LOL, yes this does make me mad too - especially at airports where they get rides to and from the gates. However, again I don' t know if this would help the situation. By the time these people are in such a situation, it is too late to make such an intervention and you might actually see more medical costs associated with these people having to walk around on over worked and weak knees. Again, I actually feel sorry for these people and feel there are generally deeper issues which accounts for such self abuse so I don't think punishing them is really the answer. .
andy September 28, 2012 at 04:12 PM
How about avoid going to that hospital.. GEEZ!
LBV Collins September 28, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Well, American, her goal is to solve childhood obesity within a generation. That's 25 years, no? And what do you mean she's "dissing our flag?" I've not heard of this before.
Anon September 28, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Maybe he is a security guard or janitor or works in IT. I think you are safe! I see nothing wrong with what he said. I doubt he is your doctor!
Anon September 28, 2012 at 04:25 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJgWMI0hch8 Michelle dissing our flag!
N1smo2go September 28, 2012 at 04:28 PM
I am so sick of political correctness because people are too emotional over words. Fat is fat, means you are overweight for your body frame. It's a word used to describe the FAT on any person or animal that is in excess of normal size and body weight. I will continue to use because that is what it is. If people are too sensitive about it go see a freaking doctor to help you with your emotional issues and your fat problem. It does no good to anyone to try to cover up the word so people can feel better about themselves. I consider myself fat. because I have excess subcutaneous FAT on my body, that I put there from not excercising the way I should and not eating correctly. Albeit there are some people that have problems from hereditary diseases and other issues but it is all treatable. If you have the will power to fight people on the use of the word FAT, then have the will power to do something to yourself to make sure you don't stay FAT. I am 226 pounds and I consider my self fat since I served 8 years in the Marine Corps and weighed only 150. I got out and stopped the excercise and started eating more food, and gained FAT. Don't changed the word, and get rid of the bull crap political correctness, it's making all the excess FAT bubble to the top.
LBV Collins September 28, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Thanks for link, American. The claim that Michelle Obama “dissed” our flag by saying "All this for a damn flag," was proved to be ridiculously false months ago. (No wonder I never heard of it. Not even the ultra-conservative media wants to talk about it.) [1] Also proved to be false is the claim that, “The video was presented for translation to a lip reading instructor at The River School, a Washington D.C. school for the deaf.” According to PolitiFact.com, “But that credibility crumbled when we spoke with Nancy Mellon, director of the River School. "…the River School doesn't teach lip-reading, Mellon said, and no one from the faculty has provided any interpretation of the video. "The school has gotten so many inquiries about the chain email that last week it posted this message on its website: “Please be advised that The River School was not involved in any translation services for a recent video clip currently circulating on the Internet. “So what did she really say? The consensus on All Deaf, a website for people who are hearing impaired, was that she said, ‘It's amazing how they fold that flag.’ " 1. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/jun/26/chain-email/river-school-lip-reading-damn-flag-first-lady/
Nettie September 28, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Andy- I agree there are underlying psychological issues that contributes to the disorder. I have been on the opposite end of the spectrum with anorexia. But I got better on my own. I find it odd that many obese people can suddenly find the will to try to lose weight when it will get them to their target weight for an insurance covered gastric bypass surgery. I've always been angered by the fact that insurance covers that. I don't find it to be a necessary surgery when there are other options like say, a healthy diet and exercise
Anon September 28, 2012 at 06:45 PM
http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html#Prevalence Hoping this link works.
Teller of Truth September 28, 2012 at 06:53 PM
LBV Collins, have to call BS on that one buddy! I can read lips and she said all this over a damn flag. Want to explain away her smirk after she said it? Our potus agreed too. They just did not know that they were being filmed. Want to try and explain away pictures of barack with his feet up on the LINCOLN desk? The White House belongs to ALL the US citizens. I don't know about you but I was offended by his arrogance. I don't go over to someones home & put my feet up on their dining room table. Total disrespect and arrogance.
Teller of Truth September 28, 2012 at 07:02 PM
The most common thread I find with overweight, down in the mouth, whoa is me, yes honey you can have that whole box of twinkies, scooter driving, placard posting, alcohol swizzling, 2 pack a day, know it alls.......is that they're LAZY !
LBV Collins September 28, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Hi TOT. Care to share links to support your claim that Obama agreed with your lip-reading ability?
Teller of Truth September 28, 2012 at 07:13 PM
I know... the 'TRUTH' always hurts , don't it? lol
LBV Collins September 28, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Ummm... I'm not quite following your line of reasoning, TOT.
justme September 28, 2012 at 07:19 PM
omFg LBV put the kool-aid DOWN! TOT wasn't saying Obama said that's what she said, TOT is saying that after she said it (and shaking her head in disgust proving your theory wrong) the POTUS agreed with her nodding his head. Your kool-aid is not only clouding your mind but starting to block your vision...
jill smith September 28, 2012 at 07:25 PM
My God how dare I tell the truth and point out some reasons why people may be over weight and have multiple health problems. How dumb are you Barry/Andy. You're a she man with no courage that want's to pretend the food is great and playing snap apple with Mrs. Obama is going to solve the problem. I am right on point you're just to big of a coward and sissy. You're hero Proust was a closet gay and mommies boy just like you. Since your mommie can't help you , you cry to Tony because your a she man. Sniveling baby.
jill smith September 28, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Of course you're scared, you're scared of anyone that tells the truth, and Scott is a real man not a she man like you. When forced to face any truth you hide. If you ever do end up in the hospital you will be petrified, and overwhelmed.
Seen it before September 28, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Can anyone think of a particular person that frequents the Patch whom is morbidly obese, has used placards and fat carts, and basically tries to halt Wildomar growth? I don't want to be specific or mention any names, but many roads, BRIDGES, and fast food restaurant drive thru's know what I'm talking about.
LBV Collins September 28, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Ahhh... Okay, now understand. While I appreciate you clarifying my misunderstanding, justme, do you really think it necessary to accuse me of "drinking the Kool-Aid?" I'm a conservative... a 30-year veteran of the Republican Party. I've voted the Republican ticket starting with Reagan in the 1980 elections. So when I see someone perpetuating misinformation about Obama, and that person claims to be a fellow member of my GOP, then I point that out. I hold my Party to a higher standard. I have provided strong evidence that Mrs. Obama did not "diss" our flag. And right now, probably the strongest evidence that the First Lady did NOT diss our flag is the complete lack of airtime it's getting at this point in the election game. Polls are showing that Romney is losing ground. And if the First Lady REALLY said "All this for a damn flag," then I strongly suspect we'd see that in a continuous non-stop loop on the airwaves. Every Republican Super PAC commercial would begin and end with that video clip.
jill smith September 28, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Andy is scared, the big bad boogy man is coming for you Andy. Andy most likley is fat.
Anon September 28, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Seen it before! Straight shooter! I like that!
jill smith September 28, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Andy face reality and stop making excuses, it shows you as the cowering fool that you are. How much detail do you need Andy, maybe so many that it takes us away from the truth which is.......Mr. Taylor thinks it is fine to poision our food with bovine growth hormone and toxic pesticide genetically modified seeds that grow into toxic plants, that he want's us to eat and feed to our kids. He is a nazi like you, only problem is he has known from the start not to eat this crap you didn't and now you want to hush everyone up that makes you feel uncomfortable about how stupid you are.
Constant Comment September 28, 2012 at 08:34 PM
@LBV, not necessarily....Obama has a history of doing all kinds of rotten things and then just sweeping it under the carpet. When Michelle Obama did 'DIS' our flag, it was spread all over the news, for a long time, when it did happen. Just because you didn't know about it, doesn't mean that everyone else didn't either. There was no mis information there. The video is what it is & there is no 'strong evidence' to the contrary. About running this clip non stop....maybe Romney isn't quite into the dirty politics like some others are.After all wives & families should be left out of it! }~)
Constant Comment September 28, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Maybe shes trying to stimulate the economy one big mac at a time! }~)
Seen it before September 29, 2012 at 01:05 AM
American and CC, I hope I wasn't overly obvious.
Popeye September 29, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Jill sounds racist! Mrs Obama supports ALL veterans and ALL women and children. Not like RomneyDontCareAbout half of America and his wife only supports horses. Wow!
Anon September 29, 2012 at 05:45 AM
Popeye using the word racism as often as you do makes the word lose it's meaning. It's used to mean something.
alucar January 02, 2013 at 09:31 PM
And if I am considered "morbidly obese" based on my BMI, but have low cholesterol, no diabetes, no heart disease, or any other risk factor, than I am considered "too fat"?? Should I still have to pay $800.00 more a year than my thin coworker that is diabetic, or has heart disease, etc... What about my co-worker that is a 6 foot woman and weighs 160- she is also considered "fat" based on her BMI.. It's ridiculous to make judgements based on BMI.
Natalia Waschinovdin February 05, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Get real people this is nothing to do with being fat or drinking too much. The truth of the matter is the only way the government can pay healthcare for the millions of undocumented workers and people without insurance is to figure out ways for people that do have insurance to pay more. Wait until they ( gasp) start charging more for children with ADHD or Autism or whatever the new disease out there turns out to be. And you haters out there that are skinney, just wait , your time is coming.

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