Junkfood Science: Update: More than a little plan — the trial balloon is off and flying

August 26, 2008

Update: More than a little plan — the trial balloon is off and flying

The decision of the state of Alabama to penalize employees with unacceptable health risk indices or who refuse screening, wasn’t simply a little news story. They never are. More than 500 news outlets across the country and around the world — from Germany, Ireland, Australia and even Bulgaria — have already picked up the story, as well as health industry publications. The plan is quickly becoming a blueprint.

One JFS reader shared this editorial that appeared in the newspaper yesterday, describing the plan as a “good idea” and encouraging state officials to think about it. The editorial was distributed to every legislator, state executive and manager and policy maker in the state today via the Wheeler Report.

You might be interested in the editorial. Obesity was used to sell the plan and the obesity myths are all there:

Weigh more, pay more? Good idea.

IF YOU WORK for the state of Alabama and you choose an unhealthy lifestyle, your paycheck may be growing smaller by the month. That's because Alabama state decision-makers have decided the cost of providing health care benefits must be brought under closer control, and one way to do it is to pressure employees to make better choices... And now the state is telling its nearly 40,000 employees there will be a penalty - another $25 - for being grossly obese. Based on body mass index, employees who do not show progress toward getting fit will be charged extra. Call it the weigh more, pay more plan.

IS THAT FAIR? Is it discriminatory against big people? We'd say yes. And yes... is it wrong to make a distinction about those who are not yet sick, but whose bad choices risk elevating costs for everyone in the pool - including taxpayers?..

Alabama officials are just acknowledging facts... obesity is a recognized risk factor... If unhealthy choices increase costs and push insurance premiums up for everyone, why shouldn't those who cause the situation pay a bigger share?... Such considerations might open the door to discounts and more reasonable costs for people who make the right lifestyle choices...

OFFICIALS ON BOTH sides of the Illinois and Wisconsin border ought to think about this... this is a sensible and fair assignment of costs. It's worth a look.


Beloit Daily News
149 State Street
Beloit, Wisconsin 53511
Editor: Bill Barth
Toll free: 800-356-3411 Extension 140

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