The state of Alabama has a new program where it will start charging state employees an extra $25 a month for health insurance if they're fat:
The State Employees’ Insurance Board this week approved a plan to charge state workers starting in January 2010 if they don’t have free health screenings.
If the screenings turn up serious problems with blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose or obesity, employees will have a year to see a doctor at no cost, enroll in a wellness program, or take steps on their own to improve their health. If they show progress in a follow-up screening, they won’t be charged. But if they don’t, they must pay starting in January 2011.
At first glance, it doesn't sound so bad. Everybody should take care of their health, right? And the state's paying for it. But think about it - do you really want your boss to know whether or not you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure?
The information will go into your employee records. How will that affect you if you apply for another job, or if you're trying to get a raise or a promotion? Sorry, Bob, but management is real stressful and you already have high blood pressure. Wouldn't want you to have a stroke and raise our health costs.
Also, consider this:
The board has not yet determined how much progress a person would have to show ...
So they're asking employees to meet a certain goal but nobody knows what that goal is. Yeah, real fair.
A college prof who runs workshops on body acceptance says:
“I’m big and beautiful and doing my best to keep my stress levels down so I can stay healthy ... That’s big, not lazy, not a glutton and certainly not deserving of the pompous, poisonous disrespect served up daily to those of us with more bounce to the ounce.”
Emphasis added by me. The treatment fat people get does as much damage as the fat itself. It makes me not want to leave the house and makes me feel hopeless, like it won't do any good anyway so why try? It only makes me want to eat more.
My health issues should be between me and my doctor. An employer has absolutely no right to know whether or not I have high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
Alabama is already charging employees who smoke an extra $24 a month. Where does it stop? They'll be going after the skinny minnies next because studies have shown being underweight can cause as many health problems as being overweight.
This is also from the article:
A recent study suggested that about half of overweight people and nearly a third of obese people have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while about a quarter of people considered to be normal weight suffer from the ills associated with obesity.
I can attest to that. Two of my paternal aunts had high cholesterol and high blood pressure that was worse than mine is now, and they were both slender all their lives. My maternal uncle had high blood pressure that led to heart bypass surgery and he had also been slender all his life. My skinny paternal grandfather died of a heart attack at 41. My maternal grandfather died of a heart attack at 54 and he was never fat. He never smoked either - in fact, he detested smoking.
How is it fair that my family should be penalized for having bad genes? What's next? Chromosome screenings for everyone to determine what health issues you're at risk for and insurance premiums based on that?
If you have the gene for breast cancer or colon cancer, will they insure you at all, or just specify they won't cover those illnesses.
And what about guys with erectile dysfunction? Those guys get depressed, which can lead to other health problems. Maybe they should have to pay a penalty too.
Just how far will Big Brother go? Are we ever going to stand up and say no?