Obesity: One Arm of the Healthcare Clamp on Freedom
The question is who should pay the premium for lifestyles that increase healthcare costs because of obesity?
Obesity’s not just dangerous, it’s expensive. New research shows medical spending averages $1,400 more a year for an obese person than for someone who’s normal weight. Overall obesity-related health spending reaches $147 billion, double what it was nearly a decade ago, says the study published Monday by the journal Health Affairs.
To some extent, the cost is currently spread out across insurance products, although the amount of the patient’s contribution varies hugely depending on their coverage. Since the average is pulled up by ailments that tend to increase in prevalence later in life, lifelong obesity is surely a factor in Medicare costs, as well.
As government officials ratchet up the hard sell for their healthcare-based power grab, we should consider that mandates preventing providers and insurance companies from adjusting prices based on preexisting conditions ensure that more of the cost of obesity is borne by other people than the patient and that a government-run system would take the responsibility entirely upon itself. Of course, being the government, it will then translate that responsibility into authority to dictate behavior.
RTI health economist Eric Finkelstein offers a blunt message for lawmakers trying to revamp the health care system: “Unless you address obesity, you’re never going to address rising health care costs.” …
It’s not an individual problem but a societal problem — as the nation’s health bill illustrates — that will take society-wide efforts to reverse, [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas] Frieden stressed. His agency last week released a list of strategies it wants communities to try. They include: increasing healthy foods and drinks in schools and other public venues; building more supermarkets in poor neighborhoods; encouraging more mothers to breast-feed, which protects against childhood obesity; and discouraging consumption of sodas and other sweetened beverages.
If you allow the government to take responsibility for your health, then any activity affecting your health becomes a public act. The consequence of this shift will take decades to work its way through the culture, but its metastasis through the organs of our freedom will be inexorable.