Can We Talk?

Discussion: The Fat Tax

(I Twittered this this morning. Are you following my tweets?)

I saw this on the MSN news site this morning:

The Fat Tax

The state of Alabama has issued a warning to its state workers: Get fit or pay up.

In August, the Alabama State Employees’ Insurance Board approved a plan that will charge workers an additional $25 to cover their insurance premiums, if they don’t take advantage of free health screenings available to all state employees. The program, to begin in January, will require state workers to receive medical screenings for body mass index and health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity.

Critics have panned this as a “fat tax” that unfairly punishes people for their genetic predispositions. Others argue that the measure amounts to lawful discrimination that infringes on the right of free will, much like the state’s 2004 decision to offer a discount to non-smoking employees.

Nonsense. This is an opportunity, not punishment. It is an important step toward better preventive care at a time when health costs are soaring and Americans are in increasing denial about their ever-ballooning weight. And the state is offering a free—yes, free—jumpstart. Under the plan, state employees are being asked to go to a free health screening, and if necessary, a free doctor’s consultation. If those screenings show that a person is predisposed to illness due to their weight or other conditions, they will be offered help to begin to address their health issues. Only if workers fail to take advantage of the free screening will they be charged the additional $25.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, it’s like, “WHAT?! We don’t need no stinkin’ government telling us how to live our lives.”

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I do not want more government in our lives.

On the other hand, it’s like, “WHAT?! Why should my health insurance premiums go up just to support people who are choosing not to live a healthy lifestyle?”

Has obesity really gotten so out of hand that the government now has to step in and take over?

Wow, I find that sad.


2 thoughts on “Discussion: The Fat Tax”

  1. I think this is a pretty interesting idea. Given that it won’t cost employees anything to get the health assessment and consultation, I would imagine it would be pretty easy to think of it as an advantage the company offers. Our insurance premiums rose by hundreds of dollars this year. I think if my university had said that if we participated in a program like this, we could help cut back on insurance costs by becoming healthier, we all would have jumped at this as a better option than $750 added to our costs.

  2. From my ever so weakening computer chair… I think it’s just another way to make a buck! Of course I’m living in the most over taxed state in the union(NY)… surcharge to us is just a cousin… Sir Charge… it’s just part of the family! hehe 🙂 We’re used to this sort of thing. If NY can charge for something… they’ll do it!

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