Did you catch the news today? CVS Pharmacy is requiring its employees to provide certain health information or risk paying a fine of $50 a month, or $600 a year. The information that employees must have their doctors provide is: their weight, body fat percentage, and blood sugar levels. You might be asking, why? The reason is quite simple. The largest expense an employer has, outside of wages, is health insurance. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. The obesity rate now exceeds 35 percent of the population.
And there is no end in sight to the costs that are escalating. According to the CDC, obesity in U.S. children aged 6 to 11 increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2010, and in adolescents aged 12–19, from 5 to 18 percent. Studies have shown that children who are overweight or obese often grow up to be overweight or obese.
You may be asking what this has to do with you. You are paying, in the form of higher premiums, for the fallout from the health conditions that result from being overweight or obese: heart problems, cancer, diabetes and more. You pay in two ways. First, you pay higher health insurance premiums to cover the greater costs of treating people who make bad choices. And second, when the children become adults, you will pay for continuing care in their later years, as well. Do you think it is fair that you should cover the health costs of people who choose not to live a healthy lifestyle? Do you think it is right for a company to charge higher premiums for people who do make bad choices, such as smokers or alcoholics?
When Obamacare was making its way through Congress, the Congressional Budget Office warned that premiums in the individual market would increase by 10 to 13 percent. Since then, major insurers have done their own analysis, and the increases are expected to range from 20 to 100 percent for those whose premiums are not subsidized—in short, those who have to fund health insurance on their own. As more employers stop providing healthcare, people paying for their own insurance will increase. And, it is just not those who pay for their own insurance--many with healthcare provided by their employer are feeling the pain, too, in the form of higher premiums.
Consider these sobering statistics: Alcohol abuse cost the U.S. health care system $85.8 billion in 1988, 25 years ago. Today, that figure is an annual $224 billion! Cigarette smoking costs are more than $65 billion annually. Finally, costs related to obesity now surpass $27 billion per year, and are rising dramatically. For a detailed list of what those costs are, click here.
It is a matter of time when what you pay for health insurance will be based on how well you make healthy lifestyle choices. But who should pay for the healthcare of those who voluntarily take health risks, those who choose to live an unhealthy lifestyle? Click here for an interesting article on the ethics of such a decision. For those who believe that individuals need to be responsible for their actions, you may find your own blood pressure rising when you read the article. Comments are welcome.
FOR MORE INFO: To see what the percentage of obese adults is in your state, click here. If obesity continues its meteoric rise, as it has, more than 50% of those living in New Mexico will be obese.
Want to read more articles on weight loss? Click on the subscribe button at the top of this article, and you will be notified by Examiner when I have posted another article.