Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Smokers will pay 50% higher premiums in 2014....

Posted by on Jan. 27, 2013 at 6:40 PM
  • 74 Replies

NEW YORK (AP) β€” Faced with the high cost of caring for smokers and overeaters, experts say society must grapple with a blunt question: Instead of trying to penalize them and change their ways, why not just let these health sinners die prematurely from their unhealthy habits?

Annual health care costs are roughly $96 billion for smokers and $147 billion for the obese, the government says. These costs accompany sometimes heroic attempts to prolong lives, including surgery, chemotherapy and other measures.

But despite these rescue attempts, smokers tend to die 10 years earlier on average, and the obese die five to 12 years prematurely, according to various researchers' estimates.

And attempts to curb smoking and unhealthy eating frequently lead to backlash: Witness the current legal tussle over New York City's first-of-its-kind limits on the size of sugary beverages and the vicious fight last year in California over a ballot proposal to add a $1-per-pack cigarette tax, which was ultimately defeated.

"This is my life. I should be able to do what I want," said Sebastian Lopez, a college student from Queens, speaking last September when the New York City Board of Health approved the soda size rules.

Critics also contend that tobacco- and calorie-control measures place a disproportionately heavy burden on poor people. That's because they:

β€”Smoke more than the rich, and have higher obesity rates.

β€”Have less money so sales taxes hit them harder. One study last year found poor, nicotine-dependent smokers in New York β€” a state with very high cigarette taxes β€” spent as much as a quarter of their entire income on smokes.

β€”Are less likely to have a car to shop elsewhere if the corner bodega or convenience store stops stocking their vices.

Critics call these approaches unfair, and believe they have only a marginal effect. "Ultimately these things are weak tea," said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a physician and fellow at the right-of-center think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.

Gottlieb's view is debatable. There are plenty of public health researchers that can show smoking control measures have brought down smoking rates and who will argue that smoking taxes are not regressive so long as money is earmarked for programs that help poor people quit smoking.

And debate they will. There always seems to be a fight whenever this kind of public health legislation comes up. And it's a fight that can go in all sorts of directions. For example, some studies even suggest that because smokers and obese people die sooner, they may actually cost society less than healthy people who live much longer and develop chronic conditions like Alzheimer's disease.

So let's return to the original question: Why provoke a backlash? If 1 in 5 U.S. adults smoke, and 1 in 3 are obese, why not just get off their backs and let them go on with their (probably shortened) lives?

Because it's not just about them, say some health economists, bioethicists and public health researchers.

"Your freedom is likely to be someone else's harm," said Daniel Callahan, senior research scholar at a bioethics think-tank, the Hastings Center.

Smoking has the most obvious impact. Studies have increasingly shown harm to nonsmokers who are unlucky enough to work or live around heavy smokers. And several studies have shown heart attacks and asthma attack rates fell in counties or cities that adopted big smoking bans.

"When you ban smoking in public places, you're protecting everyone's health, including and especially the nonsmoker," said S. Jay Olshansky, a professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago's School of Public Health.

It can be harder to make the same argument about soda-size restrictions or other legislative attempts to discourage excessive calorie consumption, Olshansky added.

"When you eat yourself to death, you're pretty much just harming yourself," he said.

But that viewpoint doesn't factor in the burden to everyone else of paying for the diabetes care, heart surgeries and other medical expenses incurred by obese people, noted John Cawley, a health economist at Cornell University.

"If I'm obese, the health care costs are not totally borne by me. They're borne by other people in my health insurance plan and β€” when I'm older β€” by Medicare," Cawley said.

From an economist's perspective, there would be less reason to grouse about unhealthy behaviors by smokers, obese people, motorcycle riders who eschew helmets and other health sinners if they agreed to pay the financial price for their choices.

That's the rationale for a provision in the Affordable Care Act β€” "Obamacare" to its detractors β€” that starting next year allows health insurers to charge smokers buying individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums. A 60-year-old could wind up paying nearly $5,100 on top of premiums.

The new law doesn't allow insurers to charge more for people who are overweight, however.

It's tricky to play the insurance game with overweight people, because science is still sorting things out. While obesity is clearly linked with serious health problems and early death, the evidence is not as clear about people who are just overweight.

That said, public health officials shouldn't shy away from tough anti-obesity efforts, said Callahan, the bioethicist. Callahan caused a public stir this week with a paper that called for a more aggressive public health campaign that tries to shame and stigmatize overeaters the way past public health campaigns have shamed and stigmatized smokers.

National obesity rates are essentially static, and public health campaigns that gently try to educate people about the benefits of exercise and healthy eating just aren't working, Callahan argued. We need to get obese people to change their behavior. If they are angry or hurt by it, so be it, he said.

"Emotions are what really count in this world," he said.

by on Jan. 27, 2013 at 6:40 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
somuchlove4U
by on Jan. 27, 2013 at 7:00 PM
2 moms liked this
When it comes to the obese they need to have a better system of figuring who is really obese. I have a friend, who is a healthy eater and a runner, according to the dr she is obese. She's tall and thin. Why punish someone like her when she is doing everything right?
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
sweet-a-kins
by Emerald Member on Jan. 27, 2013 at 7:05 PM
2 moms liked this

I am fat, my dog's health care costs more than mine in the last 7 years.

The only medical expenses I have had were for 2 pregnancies 11 and 7 years ago.

I am healthy and rarely see a doctor...

My Mother is heavy as well, she is now 68 and just found out she has diabetes. Before now, she rarely saw a doctor and other than 3 kids, a miscarriage and a gallbladder...never had any issues related to her weight.

My Aunt who is slim has had numerous medical issues and cancer runs in her family, she is 62 and has had costly medical issues...

I don't believe these figures in the OP

Farmlady09
by Silver Member on Jan. 27, 2013 at 7:16 PM
7 moms liked this

So ~ fat people cost almost twice as much more than smokers, but smokers are the only ones paying the higher deductibles?

Ok ... lit a cig ... now I'll get busy doing the math to see whether the fine or the insurance will cost more. This seriously ticks me off. I've 'used' my health insurance once ~ ONCE ~ in the past 29 years. While I was having babies, a tubal, and an appendectomy I used it more. But, other than a cranky gall bladder (which is now long rotted away in some medical waste dump), I haven't pested any doctors. I've had the flu once in all those years, and I think two sore throats that cleared up just fine with some honey/lemon tea. I had rotovirus once because the grandbabies 'shared'.

I'm allergic to most of the pills they want to push my way, I have rarely had a cold, and while I have been to a dentist my insurance doesn't do dental, so that was out of pocket. Same for my contacts.

But, the same geniuses that came up with this health care fiasco (and/or support it) now want me to pay more than fat people just because I smoke (and ~ for the record, we grow our own tobacco and it has none of the freaking chemicals in it that make cigarettes so damn toxic. Our wood burning stove is likely more dangerous).

I rarely cuss on here, but at this point, all I've got to say is fuck the government, fuck the insurance companies, fuck the fat people, and fuck the self-righteous non/ex smokers .... MOST of which are at a doctor every other week and living on a bunch of pills for their nerves, their phobias, their diabetes, their fibro, their endless tummy bugs and malfunctioning intestines, and frequently just a hangnail.

lizzielouaf
by Gold Member on Jan. 27, 2013 at 7:20 PM
2 moms liked this


lol you go girl

Quoting Farmlady09:

So ~ fat people cost almost twice as much more than smokers, but smokers are the only ones paying the higher deductibles?

Ok ... lit a cig ... now I'll get busy doing the math to see whether the fine or the insurance will cost more. This seriously ticks me off. I've 'used' my health insurance once ~ ONCE ~ in the past 29 years. While I was having babies, a tubal, and an appendectomy I used it more. But, other than a cranky gall bladder (which is now long rotted away in some medical waste dump), I haven't pested any doctors. I've had the flu once in all those years, and I think two sore throats that cleared up just fine with some honey/lemon tea. I had rotovirus once because the grandbabies 'shared'.

I'm allergic to most of the pills they want to push my way, I have rarely had a cold, and while I have been to a dentist my insurance doesn't do dental, so that was out of pocket. Same for my contacts.

But, the same geniuses that came up with this health care fiasco (and/or support it) now want me to pay more than fat people just because I smoke (and ~ for the record, we grow our own tobacco and it has none of the freaking chemicals in it that make cigarettes so damn toxic. Our wood burning stove is likely more dangerous).

I rarely cuss on here, but at this point, all I've got to say is fuck the government, fuck the insurance companies, fuck the fat people, and fuck the self-righteous non/ex smokers .... MOST of which are at a doctor every other week and living on a bunch of pills for their nerves, their phobias, their diabetes, their fibro, their endless tummy bugs and malfunctioning intestines, and frequently just a hangnail.



the4mutts
by on Jan. 27, 2013 at 7:25 PM
1 mom liked this
Amen farmlady! Aside from child birth, i have only been to th dr twice in 9 yrs. Once when a brown recluse spider bit me, and my arm started to rot from the inside out, and once when i thought i broke my foot (i didnt, just dislocated something)
why should i have to pay more, simply because i smoke? I smoke less than 1/2 a pack a day btw. Screw them
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
Kaya529
by Silver Member on Jan. 27, 2013 at 7:27 PM
3 moms liked this
That is cool but we have to be fair. We have to increase taxes on, ban, or not cover all things people elect to do that cause medical issues.

For instance we know that wearing high heel shoes cause foot, leg, and back issues. If you opt to live in places that has high amounts of pollution you can get get cancer, asthma, etc.. If you have sex you can get a sexually transmitted diseases. You know that if you have a staircase in your home and fall down it than you could end up with broken bones or even paralyzed.
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
jalex
by on Jan. 27, 2013 at 7:28 PM

 okay.

glitterteaz
by Ruby Member on Jan. 27, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Sorry fat people do not monopolize the insurance rates sorry I call bull shit on the OP

lga1965
by on Jan. 27, 2013 at 7:39 PM

 

Quoting Farmlady09:

So ~ fat people cost almost twice as much more than smokers, but smokers are the only ones paying the higher deductibles?

Ok ... lit a cig ... now I'll get busy doing the math to see whether the fine or the insurance will cost more. This seriously ticks me off. I've 'used' my health insurance once ~ ONCE ~ in the past 29 years. While I was having babies, a tubal, and an appendectomy I used it more. But, other than a cranky gall bladder (which is now long rotted away in some medical waste dump), I haven't pested any doctors. I've had the flu once in all those years, and I think two sore throats that cleared up just fine with some honey/lemon tea. I had rotovirus once because the grandbabies 'shared'.

I'm allergic to most of the pills they want to push my way, I have rarely had a cold, and while I have been to a dentist my insurance doesn't do dental, so that was out of pocket. Same for my contacts.

But, the same geniuses that came up with this health care fiasco (and/or support it) now want me to pay more than fat people just because I smoke (and ~ for the record, we grow our own tobacco and it has none of the freaking chemicals in it that make cigarettes so damn toxic. Our wood burning stove is likely more dangerous).

I rarely cuss on here, but at this point, all I've got to say is fuck the government, fuck the insurance companies, fuck the fat people, and fuck the self-righteous non/ex smokers .... MOST of which are at a doctor every other week and living on a bunch of pills for their nerves, their phobias, their diabetes, their fibro, their endless tummy bugs and malfunctioning intestines, and frequently just a hangnail.

 Eeeeeeeek !surprised

Ummmmm.....I don't know what to say.

IandLoveandYou
by Bronze Member on Jan. 27, 2013 at 7:39 PM
3 moms liked this
Here in New York Camel Lights went up to $6.00 a pack in July 2010 and I quit smoking in July 2010. Now they are up to $10.00 .. Thank god I don't smoke anymore. I can count at least 10 people I know personally that quit because of high cigarette prices, so I'd say that tactic (making it more expensive to smoke) is pretty effective.

You can barely smoke anywhere but inside your own home, and it is WONDERUL.. Seriously. ~deeeep breath~ :)
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

close Join now to connect to
other members!
Connect with Facebook or Sign Up Using Email

Already Joined? LOG IN