Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fat People Charges

Nanny state news out of Alabama: State to charge obese workers who don't slim down. According to the plan scheduled to take effect in 2010, state employees must take part in a required health screening in 2010. If that health screening shows that an employee is obese, efforts must be made to enroll in a wellness program or improve their health. If no progress is made by 2011, such employees will be assessed a $25 a month fee to cover some of the costs of their state provided health insurance.

Now, yeah, yeah, we're only talking about 25 bucks a month and we are talking about health related issues. It's not a terrible idea both in terms of sound fiscal management and encouraging healthy behavior. My real problem is the singling out of certain forms of bad behavior. Too fat? You can pay extra. Smoker? You better believe you're paying extra. But what if the government was to charge state employees for their unsafe sex practices. You better believe we'd have privacy rights organizations and liberal groups up in arms. But the truth is, there are any number of factors in our private and personal lives that affect our health and affect our health costs. So fine, maybe everyone shouldn't be made to cover the medical costs of the overweight, but why is that any different than making everyone cover frequent STD screenings and the cost of STD treatments?

5 Comments:

Blogger McMc said...

Well, there is a difference. Obesity only effects one person, whereas STDs can effect many. STD screening may get overdone by some of the more promiscuous, but at least you're seeing prevention and treatment for something that can be passed along. It's a disease you're fighting, as opposed to destructive behavior.

By the way, I'm not saying I agree or disagree with any of this, I'm just pointing out that there is a fairly reasonable difference.

3:58 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

Yes and no- again STD's effect those who engage in certain forms of behavior and do not effect others. If you practice safe sex- and better yet, if you practice safe sex within a committed monogamous relationship- you're not going to get an STD, nor are you going to need to be tested for STD's nearly as often as those who practice unsafe sex.

So while STD's do have the possibility of affecting other people, that group of people effected is still those making certain choices about their personal behavior. Again, the question is, if healthy people shouldn't have to pay for the obese, than why should those who behave sexually responsibly have to pay for those who behave irresponsibly.

9:35 AM  
Anonymous rose said...

The irony is that obese people are less likely to be capable of acquiring STD's. So you could say obese people are preventing the spread of STD's. Quite a situation.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

I think the difference is this. STD's happen out of chance. Obesity happens because people eat horrible diets and never exercise. Theres no chance involved in becoming obese. You either take care of your diet and your body or you don't. Getting an STD is no different than eating a bad piece of meat. You know when you eat most meats there is a chance for food borne illness. Just the same, you know when you sleep around there is a chance you get an STD. By charging people for a life stlye conducive to getting STDs you open the door to say that people shouldn't be allowed to make any decisions that have a potential downside associated with them (at least when it comes to personal health). Obesity is something thats simple in nature and easily controlled. Anybody who says otherwise is probably just too lazy to diet and work out.

3:18 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

Peter-

STD's only happen if you make the choice to engage in unsafe sexual behavior. The less safe you are, the greater your chances of contracting an STD. To be perfectly fair, obesity may be generally related to over eating, but there are also other medical conditions that can lead people to be obese.

Charging people for personal choices that have a potential negative health impact is exactly what charging people for being obese is. It's no different than charging people who get STD's. In both cases your talking about the choices people make and the risks associated with those choices. The real question is, why is it okay to discriminate against and judge the obese but not okay to discriminate against and judge the sexually promiscuous?


And by the way, eating meat doesn't increase your chance for food borne illness, particularly if it's prepared properly. Where do you get your facts from?

9:43 PM  

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