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Alabama Makes Unfit Workers Pick Up Tab For Insurance

Giving up buttered grits for health care? As Alabama ballooned to take the #2 spot (right behind #1 ranked Mississippi) in the national obesity rankings, the state is cracking down on free health care payouts for state workers who are overweight. It's issued a get-slim-or-pay-up ultimatum for the nearly 40,000 workers on the state's insurance plan. They'll have a year to lose weight or start paying $25 a month toward their usually free plan.

Alabama already charges smokers — an incentive that has spurred some to snub out the butts — and other states reward workers for healthy habits. Ohio, for instance, pays workers $50 for getting health screenings and $50 for following the advice.

Not everyone is happy about the plan. To see why,


One size-acceptance advocate says the new Alabama insurance policy will cause stress for workers. She says, "I'm big and beautiful and doing my best to keep my stress levels down so I can stay healthy. That's big, not lazy, not a glutton and certainly not deserving of the pompous, poisonous disrespect served up daily to those of us with more bounce to the ounce." The Alabama program will go by the body mass index chart — anyone with a BMI over 35 will be charged. Research shows that this demographic costs an average of $1,700 extra dollars in health care per year, far more than the $300 an overweight worker will be charged.

Is this plan fair? Is it a good plan to motivate healthy changes, or does it tip the scales in the wrong direction?


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