Archive for the tag - low-income

Should Fit People Get Discounts on Health Care?

A recent study found that 17% of U.S. health care costs are related to obesity. Our weight problem is costing us – not just in terms of our overall health – but in our pockets, too.

The financial burden of obesity is one that all Americans with health care must bear, regardless of fitness level, as the cost is factored into all our plans. It begs the question: Is this approach fair?

In a country like the United States, would it make sense to offer a health care discount to anyone that could do a pull-up and push-up? Or, in a country like Canada, where the health care is universalized, would it make sense to offer a rebate for fit citizens when they efile their taxes – as they are less likely to incur health care expenses? Perhaps this financial incentive would motivate people to become healthier.

On one hand, unlike conditions like cancer or cystic fibrosis, obesity is avoidable and easily curable. Though many factors go into obesity (it is often deeply psychological), changes can be made both on the inside and out that result in a reversal of the condition.

But on the other hand, providing a discount or tax break to fit people would favor wealthier individuals; there is a strong link between obesity and low-income communities. Low income individuals often have greater barriers to physical activity and less access to healthy foods and supermarkets. In other words, such a discount or tax break for people would further impair the people with the least.

So what do you think? Should the extra financial burden of obesity be carried just by the people causing it? Or should we all bear the financial impact of obesity? Does giving a discount or tax break to healthy individuals make sense, or is it a socially unjust incentive?