Should Fat People Pay More For Insurance?

Posted: May 27, 2012 12:01 AM

In our long road trip to my grandfather’s memorial service, we had a conversation I would like to invite you to be a part of. It’s clear that America has an obesity problem. How do we solve it?

Education isn’t working. Will power of people just isn’t strong enough and almost weekly it seems like we get new information on something. One week it’s the Mediterranean diet, the next Paleo and so on.

My opinion is that changing economic incentives will change outcomes. Governments have responded by taxing sugary drinks, candy, and fast food. However, just eating at a regular run of the mill restaurant can be worse calorie wise than fast food.

I think it runs deeper. Here is what I would do. I would set up a standard height/weight/age range with targets for cholesterol and blood sugars. I mean, it’s sort of like the old adage, “if it looks like a duck….”.

What do you think about setting a regulation that private companies and government agencies only had to pay for health insurance for standardized people. Any costs above and beyond that fell upon the person to pay. That’s using sticks to try to change behavior.

Conversely, you could set the same standard. Instead of a stick, a carrot. If you are below or meet the standard, you get a cash benefit. A discount on insurance or a rebate from your company in the form of a cash payment.

Which do you think would work better to try and solve America’s obesity problem? Bear in mind, everything we have done so far hasn’t worked.