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Obamacare-Smokers and the obese face penalties

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Smokers and the obese face penalties under Affordable Care Act

by Norm Van Ness

(AP) -- As more details about the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare" as some are calling it, come to light, some interesting and potentially controversial items are making headlines.

The latest revelations...smokers and the obese may face stiff penalties under the new law.

Last week, the Associated Press warned ominously that starting in January of 2014, ”Millions of smokers could be priced out of health insurance because of tobacco penalties in President Barack Obama’s health-care law.”

For insurance companies that opt to enforce the full amount, the change could mean as much as a $5,000 premium spike per year for older smokers.

Those who are clinically obese could face penalties as well.

Cornell health economist John Cawley tells the AP, “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 — when I’m older — by Medicare.” The American Journal of Preventive Medicine estimates that obesity alone will cost this country $549.5 billion between now and 2030 – and it kills 300,000 individuals annually.

And as the Associated Press pointed out...attempts to curb smoking and unhealthy eating frequently lead to backlash. Like 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.

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.

It raises the question...why not let smokers smoke...and eaters eat?

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

Is penalizing smokers and the obese with higher costs under the Affordable Care Act a good move? Or another swipe at personal freedom?

http://www.northwestohio.com/news/story.aspx?id=853324#

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It raises the question...why not let smokers smoke...and eaters eat?

does obamacare ban smoking and binging? not at all.

decisions have consequences - risks have costs. i thought conservatives knew that?

my sister has type one diabetes (as in she acquired the disease through no fault of her own) and her medical expenses for life are going to be much more than a person who is not insulin dependent, even with good insurance.

health care has to be paid for, some people have to pay more than others and some people accrue more costs than they can pay. this is how it's always been, obamacare or not. suck it up..

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A lot of companies that offer health insurance to their employees, mine included, have a "smoking penalty" ... those employees who smoke are paying more for their insurance.

It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out. The smoking surcharges will probably stick and take affect almost immediately. I can see a one or two year grace period to give smokers a chance to quit before the penalties take affect. I don't see the obesity surcharge taking hold for some time. That will probably be implimented very slowly, maybe by having quotas that people will have to meet yearly depending on how much overweight they are. It will probably start with a grace period, then gradually increase weight loss goals every year. Although I'm not one for more gov't. in our lives, I do see this as a positive in helping with the obesity problem in the US.

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does obamacare ban smoking and binging? not at all.

decisions have consequences - risks have costs. i thought conservatives knew that?

my sister has type one diabetes (as in she acquired the disease through no fault of her own) and her medical expenses for life are going to be much more than a person who is not insulin dependent, even with good insurance.

health care has to be paid for, some people have to pay more than others and some people accrue more costs than they can pay. this is how it's always been, obamacare or not. suck it up..

Exactly.

How some people think this is "new" under Obamacare, I'm not sure ...

It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out. The smoking surcharges will probably stick and take affect almost immediately. I can see a one or two year grace period to give smokers a chance to quit before the penalties take affect. I don't see the obesity surcharge taking hold for some time. That will probably be implimented very slowly, maybe by having quotas that people will have to meet yearly depending on how much overweight they are. It will probably start with a grace period, then gradually increase weight loss goals every year. Although I'm not one for more gov't. in our lives, I do see this as a positive in helping with the obesity problem in the US.

My company has a health and wellness program. The more events you participate in, and the better your results are when your health risk assessments come up during the year, the bigger discount you get. My husband and I got a great discount on a gym membership because of this program. It's nothing but encouraging!

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Exactly.

How some people think this is "new" under Obamacare, I'm not sure ...

My company has a health and wellness program. The more events you participate in, and the better your results are when your health risk assessments come up during the year, the bigger discount you get. My husband and I got a great discount on a gym membership because of this program. It's nothing but encouraging!

Having incentives for living healthy is a great thing.

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Don't know. It's not my business to ask them what they pay.

If you're in a higher risk group, you'll pay more. The end.

unless you're a woman of childbearing age.

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Sosial Security is already going to go broke in ~2033, yet they keep punishing people for trying to off themselves at an early age. Kinda seems counter-productive.

Using that logic, why not just euthanize everyone on their 65th birthday, problem solved.

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Using that logic, why not just euthanize everyone on their 65th birthday, problem solved.

Not quite the same logic. You are talking about killing people against their will. People are killing themselves by choice at an early age by choosing to smoke.

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Not quite the same logic. You are talking about killing people against their will. People are killing themselves by choice at an early age by choosing to smoke.

Sure it is, both statements are silly. Mine was on purpose, was yours?

My dad turns 65 this year. :( Luckily he lives in the frozen, salmon-less wasteland up North and he's safe.

That's a good thing that he's living up North. I'm thinking I'll move myself and the wife up there around the time we turn 64. That way we'll avoid the manadtory death sentence at 65. I hear Miramichi is beautiful, but the fishing industry has fallen over the years.

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