Monday, September 10, 2007

The Right Way to Go...On Health Insurance - Higher Premiums for Higher Risks

Increasingly, U.S.-based companies, buckling under the burden of mandated healthcare packages, are penalizing workers who have high health risks such as obesity and high blood pressure or cholesterol as insurance costs climb.

Lee Morrison, 51, interviewed by the AP’s Lisa Cornwell, doesn't seem to mind the incentives, which came in the form of added insurance charges from his employer, Western & Southern Financial Group.

"I knew if I wanted to be healthier and pay less, it was up to me to do something about it," said Morrison, who has lost 54 pounds and lowered his body mass index enough to earn refunds the past two years.

A small number of companies have linked health factors to what employees pay for benefits, but the practice is expected to grow now that some federal rules have been finalized, spelling out what's allowed by law.

Typically, so-called “Employee advocates” worry that other anti-discrimination laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act won't cover the person who is 20 or 30 pounds overweight. They won’t and what’s more those who make irresponsible choices SHOULD pay higher health premiums. It’s really just as simple as that!

The businesses are deducting from employees' paychecks, adding insurance surcharges or offering insurance discounts or rebates only to low-risk workers.

"Employers know they have to do something," said Garry Mathiason, a senior partner at the national employment and labor law firm Littler Mendelson, based in Boston. "I believe that in just the next two years more employers will turn to penalties to change employee behavior."


gerry rosser said...

Health insurance, as a private industry, has proven to be a leech on society.

JMK said...

There's no question that health insurance masks the true costs of healthcare by spreading those costs out over all those they insure.

That benefits the unhealthy at the expense of the healthy. Many are quick to point out that the unhealthy aren't only "the poor," the reckless and irresponsible, but workers in dangerous industries (miners with lung damage, firefighters with cancers, etc) and that's true, BUT the fact still remains that health insurance benefits the more sickly at the expense of those who are healthier.

In THIS case, it seems that some companies are trying to give incentives to people to live healthier by raising health premiums for those who smoke, who are obese, etc., in hopes of bringing the overall costs down.

I think people who do such things (smoke, over-eat, etc) SHOULD pay higher premiums.

That's another thing I'm concerned about with a government-run healthcare system - Where is the penalty for those who act irresponsibly?

And I don't mean mere rationing of care and restrictions on the number of visits and procedures one can make use of, no, I mean, where is the added "costs" (both financial and societal) for those who make bad choices?

This is one of the PRIMARY reasons I feel so strongly about the need for us to scrap the income tax system altogether. Not only does it punish productivity (work), it allows the truly wealthy (those one to two percent of Americans who don't rely on income for their wealth), those engaged in the underground economy and those who earn very little to pay next to nothing in taxes.

EVERYONE should pay his/her fair share.

That's why the Fair Tax SEE: (a Consumption based tax) that taxes/punishes spending/consumption and NOT productivity/work.

Moreover, it would impact the wealthiest (the biggest consumers) the MOST, take tax revenues from those now working "off-the-books" and would tax EVERYONE a certain portion of their wealth based on their consumption.

Under such a system, we'd take away the idea of trying to "make those who earn the most pay for most of the free stuff we all want."

In my view, the viewpoint of "making the highest earners pay for it all," is patently un-American in nature.

We should all be striving, not looking to hold others back.

Armina said...

Good words.

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