Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Blame it on the fat people and penalize them if they don't shape up

The health care crisis is increasingly being blamed on folks with bad health habits and particularly the obese. Nothing seems outside of the wake of destruction brought about by the "intentionally unhealthy", including -but not limited to-the health care cost curve that is bent in the wrong direction,the economic downturn and global warming.

Fortunately, we have wise, well informed senators who are going to do something about it. They will allow and seemingly encourage companies to use economic punishments on those employees with bad health habits. Junkfood Science tells us about here.

The notion that preventive (which is increasingly spelled preventative) medicine will save money seems so intuitively obvious that it is widely accepted in spite of little evidence that it is true and much to suggest it is not.See here for Charles Krauthammer's commentary of how prevention really does not save money.

There are a number of excellent commentaries and critiques of the evidence that claim to link obesity to most of what is wrong with the nation's health. Megan McArdle has much to say about that and here she discusses some of the aspects with Paul Campos, author of The Obesity Myth.Sandy Szwarc,in her blog Junkfood Science has an excellent series about the "Obesity Paradox".See here for the first of that series.

It is predictable that corporate human resource departments and others will jump on the idea of penalizing employees who are not team players and stubbornly refuse to meet such health goal targets as cholesterol , weight loss, participation in exercise programs.Some companies are already ahead of that curve even to the point of testing employees to see if they really have quite smoking.

A number of years ago I was consulting with the medical department of a large corporation who was hosting a vendor giving their pitch for a wellness program that was supposed to save on medical costs for this company which was self insured. At some point someone asked but if we keep the employees healthy longer won't we have the cost of paying folks their pensions for a longer time.

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