Obesity Fee

It doesn’t pay to be “obese.”  In fact, you have to pay for such a privilege.

In the Friday, April 1, 2011 edition of the WSJ (and unfortunately, this is not an April’s Fool Joke) was an article entitled Arizona Proposes $50 Obesity Fee by Jane Adamy. The first three paragraphs state,

Arizona’s governor on Thursday proposed levying a $50 fee on some enrollees in the state’s cash-starved Medicaid program, including obese people who don’t follow a doctor’s supervised slimming regimen and smokers.

The plan, if approved by the Republican-dominated legislature, would mark the first time the state-federal health-care program for the poor has charged people for engaging in behavior deemed unhealthy.

Some companies have insurance surcharges for employees who smoke, but they aren’t a staple of government-administered health programs.

The sixth and seventh paragraphs of the article state,

[Republican Gov. Jan Brewer] said the proposal is a way to reward good behavior and raise awareness that certain conditions, including obesity, raise costs throughout the system.

Ms. Brewer’s surcharge would apply only to certain childless adult:  Those who are obese or chronically ill, and those who smoke.  They would need to work with a primary-care physician to develop a plan to help them lose weight and otherwise improve their health.  Patients who don’t meet specified goals would be required to pay the $50, under terms of the proposal.

I know, some of you are screaming, NOT FAIR, picking on obese people.  Not all obese individuals are hefty because of overeating!

I don’t think anyone can deny the medical costs associated with obesity (as a refresher, watch Supersize Me).

 For a sizeable majority of obese individuals, a medical condition is not the source of their obesity but whatever issues are/were going on in their lives and they turn/turned to food as a comfort (yes, I too, at times, have turned to food as a comfort).  Granted, some individuals gain weight due to medication they are prescribed for another condition and the medication causes weight gain.  Long story short,  Gov. Brewer’s proposal is a great incentive to get obese individuals motivated to get the weight off.  NO ONE likes to pay an unnecessary fee. 

But, let’s call it was it is – a TAX on fat people.  Republicans claims “no new taxes” but an “obesity fee” to cover the extra costs associated with this medical condition is a TAX.

And smokers get hit as well.  I guess the Tobacco Industry has no influence left in America.  Decades ago they would have derailed any attempts to punish smokers.  Now, I presume the Tobacco Industry is just resigned to the new world view about smoking and its consequences.

But has Gov. Brewer gone far enough.  Should there be a tax on individuals with STDs – hey, don’t such conditions add more costs to the health care system?  Shouldn’t such bad behavior be punished like obese individuals and smokers?  Once you start down the slippery slope, where does it end?

Although I support Gov. Brewer’s proposal, there’s one aspect of it that is FUNDAMENTALLY UNFAIR.  Why would the tax (that’s what it is) apply to childless adults only?  Aren’t single individuals paying a lot in takes ALREADY and Gov. Brewer wants to slap another tax on top of that?  Wouldn’t it  make sense to tax adults with children, and punish those individuals for their bad behavior, because not only would it motivate the adults with children to modify their behavior, but their children will learn not to develop mom’s or dad’s bad behavior?  Gov. Brewer would then be reaching out to the next generation, placing them on notice about certain bad behavior that will be taxed and hopefully discouraging such behavior by future generations.

This proposed obesity tax (fee) may be imposed by other state or local governments.  Stay tune.  in the mean time, start an exercise and diet regimen.


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