North Carolina to tax overweight, smokers. - U2 Feedback

Go Back   U2 Feedback > Lypton Village > Free Your Mind
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 10-12-2009, 05:26 PM   #1
War Child
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Carlisle PA
Posts: 818
Local Time: 04:32 AM
North Carolina to tax overweight, smokers.

Good or bad? What other types of people should be forced to pay more?

N.C. to impose 'fat tax' - Nation/World - News & Observer

BY MARK JOHNSON - Staff Writer

RALEIGH -- North Carolina is poised to become only the second state to impose a fat fee on its state employees by placing them in a more expensive health insurance plan if they're obese.

Smokers will feel the drag of higher costs, too, as North Carolina state employees who use tobacco are slated to pay more for health insurance next year.

North Carolina officials, coping with a steady uptick in health-care costs for state employees each year, are aiming to improve state workers' health, which saves money in medical expenses.

"Tobacco use and poor nutrition and inactivity are the leading causes of preventable deaths in our state," said Anne Rogers, director of integrated health management with the N.C. State Employees Health Plan. "We need a healthy workforce in this state. We're trying to encourage individuals to adopt healthy lifestyles."

State workers who don't cut out the Marlboros and Big Macs will end up paying more for health care. Tobacco users get placed in a more expensive insurance plan starting in July and, for those who qualify as obese, in July 2011.

Some state employees, though, are criticizing the planned changes. The State Employees Association of North Carolina opposes the tobacco and obesity differentials as invasive steps that could have been avoided if the legislature had fixed the plan.

'An invasion of privacy'

"It's my understanding they're talking about testing [for tobacco use] in the workplace which, to me, would create a hostile environment," said Kim Martin, a sergeant at Piedmont Correctional Institution in Salisbury. "And it's an invasion of privacy. This is America, the land of the free. I don't think [body mass index is] a very good measure. I know some folks who would have a high body mass index because they're muscular."

The health plan covers more than 600,000 state employees, retirees and teachers at a total cost last year of $2.6 billion. Last spring, the legislature bailed out the plan with an infusion of $250million to pay the bills after rising costs and inaccurate projections left little money for claims. Over the next two years, the state general fund will pump about $408 million into the health plan.

Although officials have not yet estimated any potential savings from the obesity requirement, the higher costs for smokers could save $13million in the 2010-2011 budget year, Rogers said, emphasizing that the plan's priority is to improve health and save money in the process.

The idea of penalizing unhealthy lifestyles and rewarding healthy conduct is hardly new among insurance plans. Public health insurance plans in other states already penalize smokers or reward nonsmokers in insurance costs. South Carolina's state employees health plan is scheduled to add a $25-per-month surcharge on smokers in January. Elsewhere in the Southeast, Kentucky and Georgia impose surcharges, and Alabama gives nonsmokers a discount.

Weight checks

Alabama was out front on weight testing. Starting in January, state workers will have their blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose andbody mass index checked by a nurse. If they're in a risk category, such as a body mass index of 35 or greater or a blood pressure of 160/100 or greater, they are charged an extra $25 per month on their insurance premium. If they go to a health screening, either offered by the state or by their personal physician, then the $25 is subtracted, according to Gary Matthews, chief operating officer for the Alabama State Employees Insurance Board.

North Carolina will allow state workers with a BMI of up to 40 to keep the discount, although some experts consider anyone with a BMI of 30 to be obese.

Private sector employers appear to have been targeting tobacco and weight in their insurance pricing ahead of state health plans.

Two risk factors

"We're beginning to see a lot of employers extremely interested in this," said Tim Smith, president of BioSignia, in Durham, which provides for private employers a system of measuring employees' risk factors for the onset of chronic disease. The company presents only aggregate data to the employers and does not disclose information about individuals, Smith said.

Tobacco and obesity are leading risk factors for ailments such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and chronic breathing disorders. BioSignia is not under contract with the state health plan, but Smith said that employers like the state are trying to catch employees who are in pre-disease stages to save both lives and money.

Only a fraction of employers, though, offer financial incentives for healthy behavior or wellness programs, such as gym memberships or smoking cessation, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study last year. Differences in employees' education, health literacy and access to basic health care could affect the usefulness of financial incentives in reducing health-care costs over time, the study said.

The results are not yet in. The higher costs for smokers and the obese don't appear to have been in place long enough for any state to boast of a healthier workforce yet, according to officials in several states.

Where is the data?

"I don't know that any states have a lot of hard data on this," Rogers said.

The policies have generated a backlash among at least a portion of state workers. Some workers are anxious about the idea of tests for smoking.The tests involve examining a saliva sample for cotinine, a derivative of nicotine found in the system of tobacco users. Health plan officials recognize those concerns and are getting ready to take bids from companies that will perform the tests. The state plan has not yet developed a procedure to monitor members for the obesity standard due to take effect in 2011.

"We're going to have to work out those logistics," Rogers said.

Martin, the prison sergeant in Salisbury, doesn't smoke but considers herself overweight. Instead of financial penalties, she would like to see financial subsidies.

"If they're going to hold us accountable," Martin said, "pay for a gym membership or part of a membership. Give us an incentive, a way to combat it."
__________________

__________________
HyperU2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2009, 05:37 PM   #2
BVS
Blue Crack Supplier
 
BVS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: between my head and heart
Posts: 40,694
Local Time: 03:32 AM
It's a very poorly framed argument.

Those with pre-existing issues usually do pay more for insurance or they get denied. Smokers have been paying more for awhile.

Bottom line is if you smoke or are obese you are at higher risk and the way insurance companies are now they are going to charge you more, period.
__________________

__________________
BVS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2009, 05:40 PM   #3
ONE
love, blood, life
 
Jive Turkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 13,646
Local Time: 04:32 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by HyperU2 View Post
"If they're going to hold us accountable," Martin said, "pay for a gym membership or part of a membership. Give us an incentive, a way to combat it."
ya, or, you know, stop eating all the time
__________________
Jive Turkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2009, 05:56 PM   #4
Rock n' Roll Doggie
ALL ACCESS
 
BluRmGrl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Leather Heaven
Posts: 7,808
Local Time: 05:32 AM
As an NC state employee & someone qualified as 'obese' by the BMI index, this definately has my attention. For my height (just under 5'7"), the BMI index says I should weigh 70lbs less than I currently do. I don't deny that I need to lose at least 30lbs & as much as 50lbs - but with a legitimately large frame, I would look emaciated at 70lbs below my current weight. I understand insurer's reasoning behind wanting people to be healthier, but they're not fooling me. This is about their bottom line, not my wide bottom.

I don't know what the answer is - but unless insurers are going to broaden what weight management options are available (i.e. partial reimbursement of gym memberships with documented proof that the insured's are A) attending regularly & B) reducing their weight) then, especially as an overweight woman, I see that as being charged twice. And needless to say - I don't appreciate it.

(On a cost-related note, this article was just in today's Raleigh News & Observer: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/hea...ry/137750.html)
__________________
BluRmGrl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2009, 05:58 PM   #5
Rock n' Roll Doggie
ALL ACCESS
 
BluRmGrl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Leather Heaven
Posts: 7,808
Local Time: 05:32 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jive Turkey View Post
ya, or, you know, stop eating all the time
Wow - I bet there are millions of folks who never considered this as the solution to their weight problems. You've just saved countless lives.
__________________
BluRmGrl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2009, 06:02 PM   #6
BVS
Blue Crack Supplier
 
BVS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: between my head and heart
Posts: 40,694
Local Time: 03:32 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by BluRmGrl View Post
Wow - I bet there are millions of folks who never considered this as the solution to their weight problems. You've just saved countless lives.
Well I think his response was to the very entitled point of view of "well they should pay me to lose weight" mentality.
__________________
BVS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2009, 06:05 PM   #7
ONE
love, blood, life
 
Jive Turkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 13,646
Local Time: 04:32 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by BVS View Post
Well I think his response was to the very entitled point of view of "well they should pay me to lose weight" mentality.
this
__________________
Jive Turkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2009, 06:13 PM   #8
ONE
love, blood, life
 
Jive Turkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 13,646
Local Time: 04:32 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by BluRmGrl View Post
I don't know what the answer is - but unless insurers are going to broaden what weight management options are available (i.e. partial reimbursement of gym memberships with documented proof that the insured's are A) attending regularly & B) reducing their weight) then, especially as an overweight woman, I see that as being charged twice. And needless to say - I don't appreciate it.
Why should they have to do this? So not only should they incur the increased risk of insuring an obese person, but they should also have to pay to help that person lose weight? If I spent the past 10 years speeding in my car and racking up tickets, should the insurance company be forced to either charge me the same rate or else help pay for driver training?
__________________
Jive Turkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2009, 06:17 PM   #9
Rock n' Roll Doggie
ALL ACCESS
 
BluRmGrl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Leather Heaven
Posts: 7,808
Local Time: 05:32 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by BVS View Post
Well I think his response was to the very entitled point of view of "well they should pay me to lose weight" mentality.
Which I can completely understand. I fully concur there are many people who are overweight due to atrocious eating habits or simple sloth. But there are also plenty of us 'husky' folks who aren't lazy & won't even look at a McD's who still struggle with weight.

I'm somewhere in the middle: I don't have horrible eating habits, but I'm not as active as I need to be. On the other hand, I do have to deal with medical issues that make weight loss a verrrrrrry slow battle for me. My concern is that I seriously doubt Blue Cross/Blue Shield will take anything of the sort into consideration when they launch this program.
__________________
BluRmGrl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2009, 06:25 PM   #10
Rock n' Roll Doggie
ALL ACCESS
 
BluRmGrl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Leather Heaven
Posts: 7,808
Local Time: 05:32 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jive Turkey View Post
Why should they have to do this? So not only should they incur the increased risk of insuring an obese person, but they should also have to pay to help that person lose weight? If I spent the past 10 years speeding in my car and racking up tickets, should the insurance company be forced to either charge me the same rate or else help pay for driver training?
They don't have to do anything - and, from past experience, I'm certain they'll do as little as possible that's beneficial to their insurers. My point was, not everyone who's "fat" got that way because they don't care about themselves. If BC/BS wants to charge more for being over weight based on a chart, then an attractive option to me would be for them to assist me in the goal of losing the weight. If I choose not to excercise that option (no pun intended), then I should have to pay the max that they can charge my fat ass.

That's all - simply a personal observation.



(I'm sure there'll be more to say later - right now, I've got 5 minutes to get to a meeting.)
__________________
BluRmGrl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2009, 06:30 PM   #11
Blue Crack Distributor
 
Headache in a Suitcase's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Stateless
Posts: 56,443
Local Time: 04:32 AM
many companies are paying for gyms and giving people work out time as part of the day because it is cheaper than paying for the increases in health care... so it's not that far off that they could include a decrease in monthly gym fees as part of this plan.
__________________
Headache in a Suitcase is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2009, 06:32 PM   #12
ONE
love, blood, life
 
Jive Turkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 13,646
Local Time: 04:32 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by BluRmGrl View Post
I'm somewhere in the middle: I don't have horrible eating habits, but I'm not as active as I need to be. On the other hand, I do have to deal with medical issues that make weight loss a verrrrrrry slow battle for me. My concern is that I seriously doubt Blue Cross/Blue Shield will take anything of the sort into consideration when they launch this program.
This I can sympathize with. Its the horrible attitude of Martin the prison sergeant and her ilk that really gets me going. I find it to be a very selfish stance to take. I think what a lot of overweight people fail to see is that for the vast majority of people, maintaining a healthy weight is a daily issue. I'm talking about people who are currently at a healthy weight. Personally speaking, I know that every day my eating habits are dictated by my desire to remain healthy. I'm 5'11" and 165 lbs. - not overweight in the least. Would it be easy for me to say 'fuck it' and eat delicious pizza and icecream every day? sure. they are delicious after all (especially ice cream. frozen treats are my favourite nom nom nom). But its called will power. The heaviest I've been was at university (figures) when I was 180. But I made adjustments and am back down to where I should be. and all on my own with no government subsidies! oooOOOOoooo
__________________
Jive Turkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2009, 09:20 PM   #13
Blue Crack Addict
 
anitram's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NY
Posts: 16,295
Local Time: 04:32 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Headache in a Suitcase View Post
many companies are paying for gyms and giving people work out time as part of the day because it is cheaper than paying for the increases in health care... so it's not that far off that they could include a decrease in monthly gym fees as part of this plan.
Gym memberships are also there because they are a means of attracting employees and making them happier and more productive, not just a healthcare issue.

I don't really understand this either:

Quote:
"If they're going to hold us accountable," Martin said, "pay for a gym membership or part of a membership. Give us an incentive, a way to combat it."
I mean by that logic, then the gym should be free for the thin who already use it, as further incentive to keep using it. Totally silly argument if you ask me.
__________________
anitram is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2009, 08:29 AM   #14
Blue Crack Distributor
 
Headache in a Suitcase's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Stateless
Posts: 56,443
Local Time: 04:32 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by anitram View Post
Gym memberships are also there because they are a means of attracting employees and making them happier and more productive, not just a healthcare issue.

I don't really understand this either:



I mean by that logic, then the gym should be free for the thin who already use it, as further incentive to keep using it. Totally silly argument if you ask me.
let's not fool ourselves... yes, attracting employees and making them "happy" is a reason, but the #1 reason why businesses do this is because they've been told it can help cut back insurance costs.

it's not a silly argument at all, really. it's a preventative measure, and one could argue it's something that more insurance companies and companies should offer... not only discounted gym memberships, but gyms on site and time during the day to use the gym.

if you're 55 years old and out playing basketball and hurt your knee, the doctor isn't going to say "tough shit, it's your own fault, you shouldn't be out there playing with 20 year olds at your age." he's going to diagnose the problem, no matter how it happened, and prescribe a solution... rehab, surgery perhaps, rest... whatever it is.

if america really wants to solve it's health care issues they should start putting more money into health and wellness at an early age, and continuing through your adult life. doesn't mean everyone has to be a cut and fit adonis... but we all certainly need to do a better job at staying healthy. any encouragement the government, business, insurance companies, etc. can do to help in that will only save us all money in the long run.
__________________
Headache in a Suitcase is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2009, 09:56 AM   #15
ONE
love, blood, life
 
Jive Turkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 13,646
Local Time: 04:32 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Headache in a Suitcase View Post

if you're 55 years old and out playing basketball and hurt your knee, the doctor isn't going to say "tough shit, it's your own fault, you shouldn't be out there playing with 20 year olds at your age." he's going to diagnose the problem, no matter how it happened, and prescribe a solution... rehab, surgery perhaps, rest... whatever it is.
But if you're a 55 year old with a history of heart problems, they arent going to charge you the same rate as a healthy 55 year old. I dont understand the logic of a insurance company paying for part of a gym membership. It doesnt make any sense. I can see the company you're working for providing you with some sort of discount, but not the insurance company.
__________________

__________________
Jive Turkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
I have found my candidate!!! Dreadsox Free Your Mind Archive 88 03-09-2003 05:38 PM
MERGED ---> what's up with north korea? + North Korea exports missles Dreadsox Free Your Mind Archive 38 01-16-2003 08:56 PM
It's Official #North Carolina meegannie It's Official Archive 22 01-02-2003 11:03 AM
North Carolina U2 FAN ElectricStorm23 Introduce Yourself in the Babyface Cafe 15 12-20-2002 11:31 AM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:32 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Design, images and all things inclusive copyright © Interference.com