Should Obese People Pay Higher Health Insurance Premiums?
Writing Assignment #3: Should obese people pay higher health insurance premiums than people who are not obese? – Rishard Rheyas Obesity has become a serious problem with more than one third of adults being obese in the United States. Obesity is seen as a self-destructive behavior accompanied with smoking and use of other drugs thus, government officials and other business bureaucrats expressed the need to impose higher health insurance premiums on the obese.
Obesity is not always due to the personal behavior of people and can be linked with the environment and genetics; I personally feel that obese people should not pay a higher health insurance premium compared to those that aren’t.
Government officials and other business bureaucrats expect that raising the health insurance premiums for the obese would help reduce the mortality and overall health of the country however according to a study, individuals with lower BMIs tend to associate themselves with less favorable health conditions and mortality rates as compared to those with high BMIs.
The body mass index (BMI) assesses one’s body weight relative to height. The weight in kilograms is divided by height in meters squared (kg/m^2). It correlates highly with body fat in most people hence is a useful, indirect measure of body composition. According to research carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with increasing weight the risk of diseases also increases including cancer, stroke, coronary heart disease etc. A BMI between 25. 0 and 30. 0 is defined to be “overweight” and a BMI of over 30. is defined to as “obesity” (30 or more pounds overweight). Overweight and obesity result form an energy imbalance which involves consuming too many calories as compared to the amount of physical activity one does. The question lies on whether this issue is mainly because of psychological factor beyond an individual’s control or personal choices made by the obese individual. Genetics and the environment do play a huge role in this however it also deals with the personal choices made by that particular individual.
David Zinckenko argues in his article “don’t blame the eater”, that it is a matter of personal responsibility but can sympathize with the obese individuals as there is a lack of alternatives and information regarding fast food consumption. Society in the United States has raised concern about healthy diets, providing alternatives sources of food but unfortunately at a cost. The increased cost for a healthy diet dissuades teenagers from eating healthier food thus without a change of environment it can result in a lifetime of obesity. David Zinckenko briefly brings in the comparison with the automobile industry.
The automobile insurance is significantly high for most high end vehicles and also for the younger generation. This is mainly because the higher end vehicles have a certain type of brand value and reputation as with certain big health insurance companies. The youth are charged higher automobile insurance as they are more prone to accidents as suggested with smokers and obese individuals with diseases. The government and other respective officials imposing this would mean that obesity is termed a disease which would force individuals to try to become thinner.
This could lead to dangerous diseases such as anorexia. The difference is mainly because health insurance has a closer link to our economy and human life as compared to automobile insurance. Individuals should be given rights to decide what they would like as with the automobile insurance wherein individuals choose a higher end car thus pay a greater insurance. With regard to obesity, this increase in health insurance would not give individuals a choice but force them into a system of hardship.
Judt claims that throughout the middle decades of the Twentieth Century society as a whole guaranteed certain rights for citizens without questioning the motivations or the morality of citizens. There has been increased support for self responsibility and reduced expectations for “handouts” from the state since the 1980s. The current proposition to raise the insurance premiums for the obese questions the morality of the government officials involved as it forces individuals to change in order to fit into a certain framework of expectation.
This is unfair and it deprives individuals of their freedom and rights to choose their way of life. Concerns regarding the health issue of obesity are justifiable however this type of proposition appears to be harsh and presumptuous. It comes down to the issue of state responsibility versus individual responsibility. The current issue at hand dealing with obesity is part of the state’s responsibility but is more about personal individual responsibility. The state should provide cheaper and healthy alternatives as one of the major reasons for obesity is daily life.
David Leonhardt argues that personal responsibility has become more complicated as our environment has changed. The present environment involves us prioritizing our work more than our health or anything else hence we become more unhealthy and obese. The solution to this is suggested to be beyond the control of an individual, if people want to become successful they need to work hard most of the time and that requires people choosing a certain type of lifestyle.
Imposing higher insurance premiums would also be unfair to the obese as most obese individuals tend to earn less than their less obese counterparts. This increase in insurance would mean that individuals would have to lose their freedom and rights whilst suffering even more hardships trying to pay the health insurance. Controlling obesity can be done by implementing more healthy affordable alternatives and controlling the work environment rather than imposing higher insurance premiums and compromise on freedom.