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Obese State Workers in Alabama Face $25 Monthly Fee in 2010

Speak Up: Are You OK With an Obesity Fee?

New reports are claiming that by January 2010, state employees in Alabama will be charged $25 per month for insurance (that's normally free to state workers) if they have a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or greater or if they are not making any process in slimming down — though how the progress will be measured is still being determined. This comes after insurance companies are finding that obese folks incur more medical costs over the course of a year than those who are not overweight.

Granted, Alabama is second only to Mississippi for having the most obese population in the country, but how do you feel about it? If you're overweight, would you be OK with paying a $25 fee if your employer were to set the same guidelines? If you're not overweight, do you feel it's fair? Speak up and share your thoughts below.


PinkNC PinkNC 7 years
I have mixed feelings on this one.
MsWalton MsWalton 9 years
I am a state gov't employee (go VA!) and I'm incredibly annoyed every July 1 when my insurance premium goes up. There are voluntary programs out there for employees in regards to health and lifestyle, but that's voluntary. There are quite a few overweight employees and considering the fact that taxpayers are footing the bill in the long run, I have no problem if VA decided to make overweight employees pay extra. But they really need to add smokers to that fee as well.
superfoxml superfoxml 9 years
I really do understand what they're doing, not that it's fair. Obesity goes hand in hand with so many illnesses and diseases, and it's nearly 100% guaranteed to cause more medical need than a non-obese individual would receive. And it's also an incentive for an obese person to lose money and get healthier and avoid medical complications. But with that said, where do you draw the line? Like others have mentioned, why not do this to people who smoke or have eating disorders or addictions? Those all causes medical complications too! Where the heck do you draw the line, and why are obese individuals being singled out?
Glittersniffer Glittersniffer 9 years
I'm on the fence. Is this results based, or attempt based? Some people really do just have the genetic predisposition to being overweight, and dieting, exercise, and surgical intervention don't always help! Why not charge the smokers more? That's more of a choice than weight is.
PrettyBluLuv PrettyBluLuv 9 years
idk maybe I am just too much of a caring person, and the simple fact that there are tons of reasons why someone even become overweight. Ironic how 2 days before I decided to go to the library and stock up on the latest information and books dealing with negative body image, why we crave foods and eating disorders to help myself understand why my friends and myself think the way we do and how we have deveolped our eating disorders. And for people who just think oh if someone is fat that means they aren't trying hard enough to lose weight... PLEASE Read "Why can't I stop Eating?" by Debbie Danowski & Pedro Lazaro, MD. Seriously how about everyone think about what YOU need to work on! I personally know people who think they are normal weight and struggle with either Anorexia or Bulimia Nervosa or tendencies of both who have tons and tons of medical problems. And most of it all starts because someone got on them because they were not what everyone else wanted them to be. So yes please go ahead and charge people 25 bucks for health insurance, no problem just make sure that you put in there that when they die or kill themselves because God knows they need their job but they just can't lose the weight that everyone tells them to lose, that the company will then pay for all of the funeral costs! Wait!!! Everyone should get charged. Fat people eat, skinny people smoke, women have kids, SOME men marry women - drink - then beat their women - then wife on insurance needs to visit ER, People own cars that could get hit by another car making driver need to be checked out by docter, Women wear high heels that could get caught in a whole resulting in a broken heel and foot, People who have parents who have or had medical issues that could have been passed on to their children...... I mean really people I could go on forever! I am not trying to be rude or disrespectful to anyone in anyway but if its supposed to be FREE then thats that, don't discriminate (sp?) on anyone for ANY reason! If thats the case then don't hire them... Oh wait that illegal (but people do it all the time).
angelfromlsu angelfromlsu 9 years
joanna33t... I totally agree they should put the calories on every item on menus. No one is their right mind would order a 2,000 calorie meal at a restaurant if they knew it. Restaurants are going to have to make healthier items on menus. I don't even enjoy eating out these days due to the quality of food I may be getting.
angelfromlsu angelfromlsu 9 years
Sugasuga29...Overeating, anorexia, and bulimia are all the same. They are eating disorders. You can say that an anorexic person brings it on herself since she starves herself and exercises too much. It's all the same! I was anorexic for a number of years during high school. After recovering I ended up being overweight (oops!). Turns out your metabolism sucks after starving yourself. I'm all healthy now but I lost a ton of muscle mass that I'm still trying to rebuild. I think if they do this, they should use body fat percentage since BMI is highly inaccurate.
joanna33t joanna33t 9 years
I agree that this is discrimination and I think that a lot of above posters have made some great points. I agree that positive reinforcement is a better approach as opposed to punishment and I also agree that educating people may help the situation as well. I love the NYC law requiring posted calorie counts on menu's and I think that would help people to be more aware of what they're putting in their body. I wish other cities and states would follow their lead. I hate that they're trying to figure out how to measure if someone is in the process of trying to lose weight. The more you weigh, the harder it is to exercise; the less you exercise, the more you weigh. Being obese isn't always preventable. Lastly, I wish everyone would stop blaming the insurance companies. Talk about ignorance!!! Insurance is one of the most highly regulated industries in the country. If you don't understand your policy, ASK SOMEONE WHO DOES. That's your responsiblity that you accept when you sign your name on the dotted line and pay your premiums. And I know every situation is different, but people get pissed all the time because they just assume that everything is covered when its not or they think that their benefit is limitless and then they rant about how unfair insurance companies are when they've exhausted the limit and can't pay more or when they want coverage for something that's excluded. How on earth could these companies function if they were pleasing everyone who enters a claim? Do you people think that they just go out back to their money tree and pluck off some fresh c-notes to pay off your medical bills? Countries that have universal health care pay about 50% of their gross pay into taxes. And the insurance companies aren't looking for reasons to hate on people - it's so clear in every claim where a person is not healthy (that includes people who are underweight or inactive, although that's less prevalent) complications from injury or medical procedure are almost certain. BUT that doesn't make it right to charge heavy people more.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
Some points to clear up... -- This money is going to the STATE to help pay for the increased cost of insurance. This $25 bonus basically helps the TAX PAYERS, not the insurance companies so that isn't a valid argument. -- I love the personal anecdotes about how this is bullshit because one particular overweight person takes fewer sick days, or some nurse mentions crazy reasons people go the doctor. That's great. But obviously the statistics show something else. Personal anecdotes do NOT negate statistics. Honestly, I think some obesity is due to an unhealthy lifestyle and some obesity is for medical reasons. I don't know how to differentiate between the two other than on a case-by-case basis, and my guess is the state doesn't either. Because of that, this does seem unfair. On the other hand, $25 for health care is a freaking bargain.
psterling psterling 9 years
I think its great. Its not like they're trying to ostracize obese people, they're trying to motivate them to do better for themselves. Personally, I'd think twice before grabbing that doughnut if I knew I'd actually get taxed for gaining weight. Its a good motivator!
Briandiesel Briandiesel 9 years
I agree with the fee only if the state will step up their programs to help with obesity or help making lap-band surgeries easier to finance or state fund them. Something to make it proactive to not to be obese.
Red-Sharpie Red-Sharpie 9 years
I think some people here are missing the point. The fee wasn't put in place to punish people for being obese or to encourage them to lose weight. It was put into place because the insurance companies have found that obese people, in general, incur more medical costs and the fee will help cover those extra expenses. Hasn't insurance always been like this? If you are a higher "risk" person than insurance is more expensive...get in a car accident and your car insurance goes up, for instance. Sorry, but this isn't very surprising or shocking to me and I am not opposed to it.
Sugasuga29 Sugasuga29 9 years
To compare obesity to asthma or anorexia is so ridiculous. Both of those illnesses, in varying ways, are things that cannot be helped. Things that people do not bring upon themselves. Obese people DO bring this on themselves--they eat poorly and don't exercise. That's just a fact. Maybe this will show those who have sabotaged their own health with poor lifestyle choices that it is unacceptable. The day they start fining people with asthma, allergies, anorexia, or bulimia (illnesses we do not bring on ourselves) then we can talk about unfair.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 9 years
The comments that talk about long hair, religion, etc. are totally missing the point. Those behaviors or traits aren't intrinsically unhealthy like obesity is. Not only that, but they're not voluntary, and an unhealthy lifestyle is (for the most part, anyway). It seems like people are jumping to yell "discrimination," and maybe it is a little bit, but it isn't like it's being based on looks, it's based on the PROVEN strain that obesity puts on the economy. Additionally, those who are being taxed are being given a year to attempt to change their lifestyle, which is really quite fair. No one would jump to the defense of smokers in the same way, but really, it's not all that different.
lizabeths lizabeths 9 years
I think that is a bunch of crap. Why are you discrimanting against big people? Next, people will have a problem with people with long hair. ALL DISCRAMINATION is wrong. This country already went throught one discramination once with the blace community and that did not turn out very good. Why try to go throung discramination again?
lawchick lawchick 9 years
(oops, I meant "to EAT McDonalds")
lawchick lawchick 9 years
I don't know. I am lucky (?) enough to be able to each McDonalds or whatever I want and not exercise, and still I weigh about 110 lbs. A lot of people would do those things and end up overweight. But punishing their behavior and not mine when the behaviors are the same (but the results are different) doesn't seem very fair.
lastateworker lastateworker 9 years
Is this discrimination? I work for the state of Louisiana as a nurse. I am a little overweight I can not maintain a jog for 5 miles but the extra weight does not interfer with my job, life, etc. I am trying to loose the extra weight but am having a difficult time doing so. Not all overweight people go to the MD multiple times a year. I only go on average once a year to see my personal MD. I would be penalized for this just because of my weight. This discrimination no matter how you look at it. What's next women being told that they have to pay extra because they are pregnant and must see the obgyn multiple times during that time and even after? THIS IS NOT FAIR TO THOSE THAT HAVE MEDICAL CONDITION TO CAUSE THEM TO BE OVERWEIGHT. The insurance companies need to check and see what the medications or diagnosis side effects are. All it takes is any drug book bought at any book store. This companies also has RN's on staff for such information. This is rediculous and discrimination.
nv27 nv27 9 years
Wow! So much controversy! I can see both sides, one thing is that for $25/month it may motivate people to put that money to better use like getting a gym membership or investing in some home exercise equipment.
nuttmegs17 nuttmegs17 9 years
Yes, I have been through "tight" times financially, and as much as I may want to order the grilled chicken or fish, it is usually much cheaper to split a tombstone pizza or eat pasta with ground beef. Go to a restaurant and try to keep your cost to under $10--what are you left with? Chicken fingers, nachos, cheese sticks. Sushi,is completely out of the question. There is NO DOUBT that having money makes it easier to eat healthy and take care of yourself. Even sugary bagged cerals are much cheaper than, say Kashi. To say that it's a choice to eat healthy, is really laughable really. Sometimes you have no choice at all. Sure at lunch, I would love to go to the cafeteria and make a healthy salad, but it's MUCH cheaper to eat just eat the PB&J I brought from home. It's great to see fast food joints add healthy options to their menus, but the filling salads are not on the dollar menu. A side salad isn't going to keep you kid's belly full. Plus, if you were raised on the cheap stuff, just b/c they put the healthy stuff in front of you NOW, does not mean you will be inclined to eat it overnight. It will take time, education, etc to change things. This is def. a cultural/socioeconomic issue. There is not an overnight fix to this problem. Schools should INCREASE fitness activities, add nutrition classes and practice what they preach by offering better choices in the cafeteria.
michlny michlny 9 years
shydcgirl28 shydcgirl28 9 years
Advah, That seems the same as telling teens not to have sex, but not giving them a reason for this, or reinforcing it with examples, such as HIV rates, pregnancy, or other STDs. Just because you may know something, doesn't mean that everyone else does. Eating well is lost on most people, b/c they are trying to make a dollar last in this economy, cheap food is usually the least healthy, for instance ground beef VS. ground turkey, at my market the difference is about 3 dollars. I only have to feed me so I buy what I want. But, consider a single mom of 2 on a salary of 50k or less, with a mortgage, and tuition, and car note...
Advah Advah 9 years
Just to reply to something mentioned in a few comments - it's not complicated to eat reasonably 'healthy'. It doesn't mean shopping at Whole Foods or farmer's markets, just basic cooking as opposed to junk food, frying, too much greasy stuff, etc. I don't think you need a class to understand that.
LadyLibertine LadyLibertine 9 years
"Statistics have shown that the obese put a huge monetary strain on the healthcare system" I disagree and knowing nurses who see people come in for silly reasons . This is not a reason many come in. It really is annoying when people judge one by the size.
nuttmegs17 nuttmegs17 9 years
I am on the fence on this one. I feel that what is being missed here, is the fact that a majority of obese people are obese due to socieoeconimic factors and not pure laziness (I also agree that there should be a clause in place for those with thyroid diseases). If you grew up in a middle class family, chances are you had access to healthy food, quality education and good "fitness rolemodels" (i.e your parents perhaps played golf or tennis, took aerobics classes, etc). If you grew up in home or neighborhood where there wasn't extra income available for gym memberships, where it wasn't an option to spend more than $10 on dinner for a family of 4 (Hello, Mickey D's!), where there weren't plenty of jogging and bike paths or money for extracurricular activities, it would start to add up. You would be "groomed" so to speak to pick up unhealthy habits (not to mention the fact that gym class is one of the first programs school cut out when facing budget problems). So if they go this route, I hope they are looking at the bigger problem and not just using it as a band-aid b/c, as someone mentioned earlier, this is just a SYMPTON, its not going to solve the PROBLEM or DISEASE. Then you also have to take into account the fact that if you are going to force people who may (and I hope they monitor this) be at the bottom of the pay check scale, hitting them with extra fees is not going to leave them with any extra money to buy grilled chicken and veggies instead of a big mac for dinner, much less join a gym.
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