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AP Wants Obama-Care ‘Penalties’ For Obesity

From an always pushing Associated Press:

Do penalties for smokers and the obese make sense?

By MIKE STOBBE | From January 26, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — … [A]ttempts to curb smoking and unhealthy eating frequently lead to backlash: Witness the current legal tussle over New York City’s first-of-its-kind limits on the size of sugary beverages and the vicious fight last year in California over a ballot proposal to add a $1-per-pack cigarette tax, which was ultimately defeated…

So… Why provoke a backlash? If 1 in 5 U.S. adults smoke, and 1 in 3 are obese, why not just get off their backs and let them go on with their (probably shortened) lives?

Because it’s not just about them, say some health economists, bioethicists and public health researchers.

"Your freedom is likely to be someone else’s harm," said Daniel Callahan, senior research scholar at a bioethics think-tank, the Hastings Center.

Here we go. The camel’s nose is now officially under the tent.

Smoking has the most obvious impact. Studies have increasingly shown harm to nonsmokers who are unlucky enough to work or live around heavy smokers. And several studies have shown heart attacks and asthma attack rates fell in counties or cities that adopted big smoking bans…

None of this is true, of course.

"When you ban smoking in public places, you’re protecting everyone’s health, including and especially the nonsmoker," said S. Jay Olshansky, a professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s School of Public Health.

It can be harder to make the same argument about soda-size restrictions or other legislative attempts to discourage excessive calorie consumption, Olshansky added. "When you eat yourself to death, you’re pretty much just harming yourself," he said…

But that viewpoint doesn’t factor in the burden to everyone else of paying for the diabetes care, heart surgeries and other medical expenses incurred by obese people, noted John Cawley, a health economist at Cornell University.

"If I’m obese, the health care costs are not totally borne by me. They’re borne by other people in my health insurance plan and – when I’m older – by Medicare," Cawley said.

From an economist’s perspective, there would be less reason to grouse about unhealthy behaviors by smokers, obese people, motorcycle riders who eschew helmets and other health sinners if they agreed to pay the financial price for their choices.

That’s the rationale for a provision in the Affordable Care Act – "Obamacare" to its detractors – that starting next year allows health insurers to charge smokers buying individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums. A 60-year-old could wind up paying nearly $5,100 on top of premiums.

Is this the AP apologizing for their article last week, where they reported the $5,100 ‘smoker penalty’ that has suddenly been discovered in Obama-Care?

The new law doesn’t allow insurers to charge more for people who are overweight, however.

It’s tricky to play the insurance game with overweight people, because science is still sorting things out. While obesity is clearly linked with serious health problems and early death, the evidence is not as clear about people who are just overweight.

That said, public health officials shouldn’t shy away from tough anti-obesity efforts, said Callahan, the bioethicist. Callahan caused a public stir this week with a paper that called for a more aggressive public health campaign that tries to shame and stigmatize overeaters the way past public health campaigns have shamed and stigmatized smokers.

And people with AIDS. (Just kidding.)

National obesity rates are essentially static, and public health campaigns that gently try to educate people about the benefits of exercise and healthy eating just aren’t working, Callahan argued. We need to get obese people to change their behavior. If they are angry or hurt by it, so be it, he said.

"Emotions are what really count in this world," he said.

Sadly, that is becoming more and more true as our world descends into a new dark age of irrationality.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, January 28th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “AP Wants Obama-Care ‘Penalties’ For Obesity”

  1. mr_bill

    They said they wouldn’t do this. The democrats said they wouldn’t insure illegal intruders, they said there would be no death panels, they said “revenue neutral.” They promised no federal funding of abortion. These were all lies and the very things they promised wouldn’t happen are now coming true. Next, they said they don’t want to take our guns away….anybody buying that?

  2. canary

    Any penalties should only be enforced on federal officials, elected or appointed officials, czars, and of course family members up to age 26; A trial run for the obesity for that federal working class. No telling what tantrum of words “pro or coni” would come out of Chris Christi’s mouth. No doubt he’d say people with personal trainers as himself should be exempt from extra penalties.

    Obama and his regulation is doing everything to separate people into classes.

    So many laws and regulations extinguish “the Pursuit of Happiness”.
    Rules and regulations are what’s choking people worse than the air they breath.


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