Obesity and Health Insurance

As a nation of fatties we must be at least honest with ourselves and admit that as a nation we could stand to lose a few pounds. I am not trying to be insulting and if you should suffer from a glandular problem please excuse yourself from this discussion (but do read on as this article will address obesity and health insurance).

“We Believe Health Insurance is a Right, Not a Privilege”

Why have I started this conversation? Because health care costs are rising so much at least in part due to your steady diet of McDonald’s and Twinkies. I don’t want or expect you to stop eating, as freedom is always of the utmost importance when debating any issue, furthermore there should never be a tax on sugar or fat people as that is both predatory and discriminatory.

But that doesn’t excuse you from being part of the problem of rising health care costs. You have all seen the numbers already but here they are again for those that haven’t. As we have gotten larger, health care spending from the obese and overweight has grown 80% in the short period from 2001 to 2006 and right now 1/3 of Americans adults are obese.

What should we do? Even overweight and obese people need health insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, they now qualify for any health plan without getting their rates increased or being declined. Underwriters won’t even look at your BMI anymore before offering you coverage for the same premium as a healthy person. Call East Coast Health Insurance at 888 803 5917 as everyone has a health plan that they qualify for if they are willing to try, whether it is Medicaid, the county health plans, or even private health insurance.

Before health reform, the individual health insurance market had already taken a bite out of their pocketbooks (sorry for the pun) as the health insurance premiums on the obese (assuming they can even get approved) could be eye opening.

Many health insurance companies would up charge a heavy person (not an obese person) up to 50-100% more than the actual premium.  An obese person would usually not even get approved, and even if they should be able to be approved their conditions would cause them to be declined.

Diabetes type 1 was always a declinable condition for individual health insurance (group health must accept it of course) and if an individual health insurance company accepted you with Insulin (type 1) diabetes, you should have canceled it as it was not a real health insurance company.

Diabetes supplies can cost without prescription coverage up to $500 per month for all the testing strips, needles, and assorted other gadgets that make active monitoring of your blood sugar simpler.

So what can we do to deal with obese people and health care costs? (Not what can we do with obese people of course, they are most likely nice people and we are certainly not Nazi Germany.)

Well, Wegmans Food Markets in upstate New York has already tried some interesting programs. After partnering up with six other large, local employers including Kodak and Bausch and Lomb they set up a health and fitness program for the entire metropolitan population.

So far 44,000 people have responded to the company’s challenges to walk 10k steps and to eat 5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day.  Additionally, the companies joined with medical providers and insurers to substitute generic drugs for brand, and to streamline the local hospital operations for no charge including the introduction of electronic medical records system.

The results have been amazing, as Rochester’s health care costs have dropped to 15% below the national average over the last 4 full years of the program.

Can we do this nationally? It is up to the large group employers to take the initiatives that Wegman’s did in order to pass the cost savings to the entire nation, not to mention the extended life spans and productivity gains.

Obesity is not a disease that cannot be fought. It is not cancer; it is not even as severe a fight as a drug addiction. There are no real severe withdrawals to going to a better diet; in fact you will feel better! Smokers fight a hard battle as well, and for the most part our fight against tobacco has been a good one as smoking rates have dropped tremendously over the years.

It is now to time to stop fighting RJ Reynolds and to start fighting the McDonald’s Clown!