Healthcare is Sick

Is there a cure?

Sin taxes and carrots become more prevelant in health care

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States are experimenting with a variety of health care provisions meant to induce healthier lifestyles.  Some charge state employees more for smoking and not trying to quit and for being obese and not trying to lose weight, others impose a monthly smoking surcharge for those on state insurance plans, as reported recently in Time magazine.

Similar policies have appeared in the Senate health care plan, according to the Time article.  Currently, companies administering insurance programs can reward employees with premium reductions of up to 20 percent for meeting certain health guidelines; the Senate plan would increase this figure to 50 percent.

These policies may already be too late.  By 2018 America is projected to spend $344 billion on health care costs attributable to obesity if rates increase at current levels, according to a recent report based on research by Kenneth Thorpe of Emory University.  This projects to about 21 percent of total health care spending.

Thorpe criticized congress for not focusing more on measures to reduce obesity, such as taxing sugary snacks and drinks.

“If we’re interested in bending the cost curve we’ve got to go back to the source of what’s driving spending,” he was quoted as saying in a New York Times health blog. “And if you go back 5 or 10 years it’s not technology at all. It’s the explosion of chronic disease.”

According to the report America spends about $1.8 trillion a year in medical costs associated with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer; all are linked to smoking and obesity.

 

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Written by Chris Russell

November 20, 2009 at 5:09 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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