Alabama to Charge Fat Workers

If you're overweight and work for the State of Alabama, it'll soon cause you $25 to work every month. Alabama, ranked third fattest in the nation (behind Mississippi and West Virginia) will be the first to charge state workers for not slimming down:

The state has given its 37,527 employees a year to start getting fit or they'll pay $25 a month for insurance that otherwise is free. [...]

The State Employees' Insurance Board this week approved a plan to charge state workers starting in January 2010 if they don't have free health screenings.

If the screenings turn up serious problems with blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose or obesity, employees will have a year to see a doctor at no cost, enroll in a wellness program or take steps on their own to improve their health. If they show progress in a follow-up screening, they won't be charged. But if they don't, they must pay starting in January 2011.


A sensible approach or is it just Big Brother?

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Seems grossly unfair. I wonder if they charge extra for employees with spouses or dependents covered by insurance, which has to be a much bigger cost. Or older employees. Not to mention not exercising is worse for your health than obesity. I bet it's just that "everybody" loves to rag on smokers and fat people now, so they're easy victims for wage cuts. I do not approve.
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I think it's really inappropriate to take this kind of action. Positive incentives will be better received. Instead of taxing and punishing fat people (who might be overweight because they are on antidepressants or have thyroid problems), why not add social programs encouraging healthy lifestyles, including education about nutrition and physical exercise? This program seems geared to encourage weight loss at whatever cost, as quickly as possible, which is bullshit, the least healthy and least effective way to go about it.

This is such Puritanical witchhunt tripe. Why not start off schools with gardening/cooking classes and good PE, and try to find a longterm solution?
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Fat is the new smoker. The more Government can take over you life, the more they will. Just wait, they will start taxing per pound for every pound over your "Body Mass Index".

If they were smart, they would leave Alabama. If people started moving out, they would change the law.
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No need to panic, people. All they have to do is make progress. Nobody's expecting them to become size zero supermodels. Even with underlying conditions like hypothyroidism or diabetes, positive changes in diet and/or lifestyle should make some sort of difference.

It baffles me that people wouldn't want to be take advantage of something like this and improve their health. Sure, you have a right to destroy your body... but if you're going to do so, you shouldn't expect other people to foot the bill. If you want to remain big and "beautiful", don't expect your employer or other taxpayers to pay for it. It comes down to personal responsibility, and that's something that a lot of people still don't want to accept.
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Since the option to get whatever treatments are necessary to get healthy is totally free, I see no problem with it. It would be unfair to expect employees to pay for weight-loss programs or whatever else was necessary to avoid the surcharge. But since it doesn't cost them to get healthier, if they opt to not do it, they should have to pay. They are making a conscious choice to be unhealthy and cost the system more, so the cost of their decision should be passed on to them.

The program should be really written,though. With well defined standards and with well defined exceptions. Like that you should have to fail more than one standard to have to pay the surcharge. Like if you fail the cholesterol test AND the BMI test or the blood pressure test and the weight test. That way people that are obviously fit healthy people with one strange characteristic aren't charged unfairly. Like I saw something once where they were showing pro athletes, obviously at the peak of health, and that their BMIs would be considered obese. Also there should be noted exceptions for people with other medical conditions that would make it impossible for them to get fit enough to meet the standards. I'd hate for someone with a serious heart condition to be expected to excercise enough to be fit or someone with an untreatable thyroid condition fined for being heavy.

But seriously, even with the surcharge, it's 25 dollars a month. I'd be THRILLED to only pay 25 dollars a month and have health insurance! Absolutely delighted!

Maybe health insurance should be more like car insurance, with statistical risk factors factored into what rate you'll pay. A 24 year old single man with a red sportscar and a bad driving record is going to have to pay more for car insurance than a 50 year old married father with a mini-van and perfectly clean record. It makes sense. It works that way with home owner's insurance,too. It costs you more to insure a house on a Florida beach than it does a house where there's no chance of hurricane damage. Why not health insurance? If you have known risk factors that are going to cost more when the insurance has to pay out, why should your rates be the same as people with bodies that are known to be cheaper to maintain? And it's still a bargain if you have to pay the higher rate, since your risk of needing the insurance is higher. Like if you're the young guy with the sports car, yeah, you are likely to wreck, so it's worth paying more to have insurance to cover it when it happens. If you're the morbidly obese chain smoker, you're likely to have a heart attack, so it's worth paying more for insurance to cover it when it happens. If you're a safe driver with a safe car, you aren't as likely to ever use the insurance, so it's better for you to have lower monthly premiums. If you're a healthy person, you aren't as likely to be hospitalized, so lower monthly premimums are a plus.
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