Junkfood Science: Penalties for bad behavior

October 04, 2009

Penalties for bad behavior

Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved a healthcare reform amendment that would penalize employees who are not following “healthy lifestyles” and participating in wellness programs. Employers will be allowed to raise healthcare premiums by as much as 50 percent for workers who are fat, smoke, don’t exercise, are noncompliant with preventive care, and not meeting certain health measures, such as lower cholesterol levels.

Blaming “skyrocketed healthcare costs” on weight gain and unhealthy lifestyles, Sen. John Ensign told media that weight loss programs, smoking cessation and preventive care could lower costs. Employees who are trim and living “healthy lifestyles” should be rewarded for their good behavior, said Ensign, and those who are not should pay. The Senate committee passed the bipartisan amendment by a vote of 19 to four.

This is why sound science matters.

People talk of personal responsibility, but it never seems to apply to taking responsibility to make sure that the popular claims and judgments they repeat, and act upon, are really supported by sound research evidence.

Personal accountability never seems to apply to hurting people and discrimination, especially against those who are politically incorrect.

Control over the personal behavior of others is the new public health ethic. It is not to be confused with medical ethics.

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