February 11th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Should obese people pay more for health insurance?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Want to save money on your health insurance? Try the salad bar. In South Carolina obese people may soon have to start paying more for their monthly premiums.

Should obese people pay more for health insurance?

South Carolina is considering a proposal that would charge obese state employees extra for health insurance.

A bill in the state Senate would charge fat public workers an extra 25 bucks a month, tying the fee to employees' body mass index, which is a measurement of weight and height.

But a subcommittee delayed its vote when the author of the proposal said he'd be willing to rewrite it. They may turn the surcharge into an incentive instead of a punishment, meaning the state would increase everyone's premiums and then give a discount for fit workers. Either way it sounds like a win-win. It's no secret that fat people tend to eventually require more healthcare than skinny people. Diabetes, heart attacks and strokes tend to occur more frequently in the overweight population.

And South Carolina has a lot of them. The state ranks fifth nationwide when it comes to adult obesity and diabetes. 30% of residents are considered obese and one in 10 has diabetes. The state has already approved a proposal to charge smokers $25 more a month for health insurance.

Critics say the fee would be too difficult to administer and enforce. One senator calls it an intrusion into people's lives and another says it wouldn't be fair to those who have weight problems for health reasons and not because they just eat too much and don't exercise.

Last summer Alabama became the first state to approve charging fat workers more if they don't shed some pounds.

Here’s my question to you: Should obese people pay more for health insurance?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Pete from Florida writes:
If obese people were forced to pay more, then it would definitely make them more inclined to lose weight. I'm tired of being the "fat country" of the world. I say we start the plan now.

Larry from Ohio writes:
Jack, Personal habits have played into the cost of insurance premiums for a while now (smoking, etc.) If a person chooses to put himself into jeopardy of having a Big Mac heart attack, I see no reason why that person shouldn't have to pay more!

Mark writes:
Once again, we are making the poor pay for our financial problems. Many, if not most, overweight people are overweight because the cheaper food, which they can afford, is high in calories and low in nutrition. From our school lunch programs to cheaper fast foods, the poor are caught in a situation where to eat normal amounts is to become obese.

Larry from Houston writes:
Jack, If the cost of health insurance was decided by how much you weigh, can you imagine what the American people would look like in the future? The fast food places would go out of business!

Maria writes:
Well, I don't know. As someone who has struggled with her weight since she was 12, it's yes and no. Yes, because I think they should be held responsible when they won't make attempts at losing weight and continue to live unhealthy lives. But no because I do believe that obesity is a genetic condition and at times can't be controlled.

Sontho from Tallahassee, Florida writes:
Elementary, my dear Jack: you weigh more, you pay more!

Rowland writes:
My answer is a big fat yes.

Filed under: Health care
soundoff (232 Responses)
  1. Barb New Port Richey Fl

    Oh give me a break!!! Going by that, those that smoke, or drive a car or are policemen, firefighters,and nurses; they should have to pay more. It is a dangerous world out there!!!!

    February 11, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  2. JD in NH

    No! Should smokers pay more? Anorexics pay more? How about sky divers? As a matter of fact, older people shouldn't pay more and sick people shouldn't pay more. We should have universal, single payer healthcare and everyone should have access to the same level of care. If the obese can't afford health insurance, what's the plan? Line 'em up along a pit of hot fudge and shoot them? No one should be singled out and penalized when it comes to health care. It is inhumane for a civilized society to do so.

    February 11, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  3. Terry- Greensburg, IN

    I'm glad I'm not fat, I can't afford what I pay now!

    February 11, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  4. Taylor L.

    Austin, TX

    If teenagers have to pay more for car insurance, if people who live on the coast have to pay more for flood insurance, if smokers have to pay more for health insurance, then yes, obese people should also.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  5. Liz in Towson, MD

    This is one of those "iffy" things in life. If the person is obese because of their genetics but otherwise takes care of themselves, then no. But if the person is just a lazy bum and eats all day long, then, by all means, YES! That's a choice they make, just like smokers–and from what I understand, smokers CAN be required to pay more for health insurance. Equal charges for equal choices, I guess.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  6. JR in Norfolk VA

    That is entirely the business of the insurance company, but I would imagine that unhealthy people with unhealthy lifestyles would be a greater risk to insure and therefore should probably have to pay more.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  7. Kevin in Dallas, TX

    Absolutely. Like it or not, being obese is unhealthy. The cost of being insured should reflect the likelyhood of filing a claim. Otherwise people who are less likely to file a claim will have to pay a higher premium in order to help cover the expenses of those who regularly file claims.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  8. Al, Lawrence KS

    Nobody should have to pay for Health Insurance...period. None of us is perfect, Jack. Some of us are too fat, some too thin, some too old, some too lazy, some work out too much, some not enough. Health insurance is just a scam to get more out of each of us for not being perfect. Every year my insurance goes up because, guess what, I got a year older. I can't do anything about that but I'm trying. Everytime I go to the doctor, I have a new pre-existing condition that keeps me from changing policies. We don't need more insurance. We need universal health care and we need it now.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  9. lou

    My sister in law is obese. She goes to the doctor monthly for a variety of medical problems ranging from bad knees to diabetes. The last time I went to the doctor was 5 years ago for strep throat. I don't think its fair for all of us to pay higher rates for some other people's life style choices. Smokers, drinkers, over eaters... they need to be paying more.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  10. stan in south jersey

    Yes they should. I think we should make fat people the new beating post. charge them extra for their clothes, insurance, heck charge a tax on every pound over normal.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  11. Jenny Rome Ga

    No more than anyone who smokes. Being fat may be unhealthy but smoking WILL kill you one way or another.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  12. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Heck no Jack. Obese people have more heath problems, so use more health care. They should get a quantity discount. However, as a deficit lowering measure we should raise the tax on Twinkees.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  13. Judie from St. Augustine, Fl

    Obese people should not pay any more for health insurance. Is't this discrimination? These people were not born obese just as most sick people were not born sick. it makes just as much sense to charge blondes more because they are considered less smart than others. Or we could charge blue eyed people more because blue eyes are not up to the insurance companies standards. Give me a break, the insurance companies are in business to make money and if they can charge obese people higher insurance should they not also charge thinner people more because they can get sick faster?
    St. Augustine, Fl

    February 11, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  14. John in Atlanta, GA

    Hell No. The geniuses who create these fat-abulous foods, injects the animals with steroids, and other additives, shouldbe footing the bill. Now, some people eat for the sake of eating, but healthy lives come from education (whoops, guess they were children left behind).

    Honestly, Jack, this country needs a National Health Care system.

    John in Atlanta, GA

    February 11, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  15. Karen, Idaho

    Hi Jack,

    The average person cannot afford health care now. We need national health insurance for everyone. Then, maybe those obese people could afford to get diet counseling from a physican and would be encouraged to lose weight. Making the cost significantly higher will only result in more people without coverage.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  16. Diane Glasser

    Lets stop knit-picking as to who should get insurance and who should not. It is time to institute universal healthcare insurance for everone.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  17. Mike S., New Orleans

    If obese people should pay more for health insurance, then so should smokers, drinkers, lazy skinny people, anorexics, bulemics, people whose parents had cancer, older men who take too much Viagra, talk show hosts who abused Oxycontin, skin cancer victims who used tanning beds, and women whose breast implants leaked. Let's get real Jack. We're all paying a share of somebody elses problems, as they are also paying for a share of ours.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  18. John in Arizona

    Of course they should, just as an accident-prone driver pays more for auto insurance.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  19. Al Bledsoe in Dallas


    No. I'm fat.

    I would have liked to have seen this for smoking, drinking and stressful jobs and lifestyles like journalism, though.

    However, I could agree to a health insurance increase if a tailored program was offered to help each sufferer mitigate their obesity.

    Then I would need to see DNA evidence, and the cost for hospitalizing eight newborns in an NICU, etc, etc, etc. to make sure not one particular health risk/expense was being singled out.

    Al Bledsoe
    Dallas, TX

    February 11, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  20. Larry from Georgetown, Texas

    What's health insurance?

    February 11, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  21. Scott, Wichita

    Unless their obesity can be attributed to a treatable medical condition, yes. It isn't that hard to get healthy food instead of fast food, and we're one of the largest countries on earth... There's room to take a run.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  22. jack frost

    If someone is 10 or 20 pounds overweight I don't think so. No big deal. But when you get to 70 and more pounds overweight..maybe it is a good idea. Then again, maybe some will be offended.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  23. Chad Jarman--Los Angeles

    God yes! If anything will motivate fat Americans to be healthy, it is $$$!!!

    February 11, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  24. Ron in Ohio

    While it may seem unfair that they don't since being overweight can cause so many problems, no they should not. Should those with heart problems, cancer, diabetics, smoking, etc., etc., pay more? Where do we stop? What we should do is reward good health much like the auto insurance industry does. No accidents, lower cost. Start getting accidents, pay a bit more.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  25. Janet Ford

    You bet fat people should pay more for health insurance. Countless preventable diseases could be prevented if the "heffers" just showed some restraint and put down the fork every now and then. Less heart attacks, diabetes, cancers, and even blown out knees. Don't laugh, I work with a fat oaf that keeps running to the doctor for braces and pain meds. All he needs is some will power and a little less self pity. The equation could be simple. If you weigh twice as much as you should, then "belly up" and pay double. Same goes for the other health abusers. Smokers and substance abusers should ante in their share as well.
    –another compassionate citizen of New Freedom, PA

    February 11, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  26. John Brewer

    For the life of me I don't understand why the US hasn't stepped into the 20th century let alone the 21st and provide universal healthcare. Its cheaper than the system you have now and there are many models that can be used to fashion your own system. Despite popular misconception in the US nobody is forced to do anything.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  27. Julianna, Biloxi, MS

    Yes, because there is more than ample (no pun intended) information out there regarding the dangers of obesity, and it is being ignored. If someone chooses to continue an unhealthy lifestyle, then they should suffer the consequences.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  28. Vivian Fauntleroy, Largo MD

    Jack, speaking as one who, over 40 years, has literally invested thousands of dollars in weight loss programs, and has been up and down the scale more times than 10 roller coasters on the 4th of July despite medical assistance, including therapy, I know that overcoming obesity is much more complex than a calorie in/calorie out food choice issue. Should medical science discover the physiological cause(s) of obesity and development a treatment for it, then if I won’t avail myself of that treatment I should be charged more for health insurance. Otherwise, it is just another form of discrimination.

    February 11, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  29. HD in Phoenix

    They should definitely be forced to pay for 2 airline tickets when they are taking up 2 seats or invading the space of the person sitting next to them on the aircraft. However, with regard to insurance, I'm not even sure if this is a valid question. If you go down this pathway of thinking, then you definitely have to include smokers because they without question place heavy expensive burdens on America's healthcare system. The insurance industry is such a greedy corrupt racket that does not give a damn about the healthcare of people anyway and they structure their revenue streams to go to their greedy top heavy administrations as opposed to the patient population where it belongs. A big cost problem with our nation's healthcare system is not the hospitals and the healthcare workers who work there. Much of the costs of healthcare often has very little to do with the actual healthcare of patients and had more to do with greed and profit driven motives of insurance companies.

    HD in Phoenix, AZ

    February 11, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  30. Ray Kinserlow

    Quit picking on us fat people, Jack.

    Ray Kinserlow
    Lubbock, Texas

    February 11, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  31. Dave from Veazie, ME

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am an obese American, however I have also lost 16.3 lbs over the last 4 weeks and I'm working hard to remove my self from the obese category. That said, I don't think obese people should pay more for health insurance. Making them do so would be a form of discrimination. It would be better to find ways to encourage these individuals to lose weight. If insurance companies would actually pay for preventative care, maybe obese American's could see doctors to take steps towards losing weight and becoming healthier individuals. Then the insurance companies wouldn't have to pay for as much blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol medications, which in the long run would probably save them a lot of money.

    February 11, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  32. Kristen - University Park, PA

    Jack, seeing that I am not overweight I am all for giving discounts to fit folks.

    It seems rude to charge people for being overweight, so no I'm not down for that. If overweight people are not motivated to get fit for health reasons I doubt paying $25 a month is going to do much.

    February 11, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  33. Diane, Barneveld, NY

    Not before Congress pays out of pocket for theirs.

    February 11, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  34. Karen - Tennessee

    Should bad drivers pay more for car insurance? Should people who don't maintain their homes pay more for house insurance? Should people who indulge in extreme sports or risky personal behaviors pay more for life insurance? It all makes sense to me, because I don't want them on my bill.

    February 11, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  35. Daniel, Indiana

    Why should it be just obese people? Why not for an unhealthy life style. That could and should include eating lots of fast foods, lots of sugary sweet foods, using their car to drive everywhere, including, in many cases, going across the street and various other unhealthy factors of life style.

    February 11, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  36. LM from Fayetteville, NC

    Who is going to determine what obese is? Twenty years ago obese had a different definition. Today seriously overweight people are not yet obese. I think the metric that should be used their health condition and status. Obesity is a serious problem today. How do you judge it? Make sure some of the "judges" are obese.

    February 11, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  37. john ... marlton, nj

    Yes, so should drunks, smokers, mentally ill, cancer stricken patients, sick children, sick adults, poor people, people with medically dangerous histories, and those whose DNA tests suggest they will be "users of the insurance...

    Dumber than the question it self is that ANY politician would ever consider "serperating" users . Whats next, if they said, people susseptible to sickle cell disease shoudl pay more......

    February 11, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  38. d

    Absolutely not Jack. At the present time, I did not realize this was the USSR

    February 11, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  39. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Make it an incentive and not a punishment!

    And stop believing that only thin people are fit! My owm mother weighs nothing and has heart disease, coeliac disease and god knows what else!

    February 11, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  40. Lynn, Columbia, Mo..

    We all know that lower paid people buy cheap foods which are mostly starches and high in fat, ie balogna, hot dogs, sausages, pasta, potatoes, rice and beans and bread. Why charge more to people who can only afford to eat these foods? They will have to just eat more of them and the insurance companies will wind up paying for more health issues. I get so tired of people blaming the victims. These ins. cos. come on TV sounding like pulic service announcements or charities who really care, when the bottom line is really about making lots of money. I wonder how many ins. lobbyists it took to get this legislation. That's the question I want answered. Financial institutions aren't the only greedy legalized crooks in this country.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  41. Terry in Hanover County

    Insurance carriers would figure out a way to raise rates regardless if we were all healthy. Are they going to charge more for people who drink alcohol, smoke, or use drugs? Are they going to charge more for people who do not exercise but who aren't overweight? I remember when I was within the acceptable weight range, then the insurance industry changed the weight tables downward. Losing weight is not always about overeating, but charging someone more because he or she is overweight is a slippery slope. Tomorrow it may be only perfectly fit people are entitled to low-cost insurance, if there is such a thing. I only know one person who fits that mold and she just found out she's diabetic with no history of the disease in our family. Guess she'll have to pay more for her insurance, too, and she did everything right.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  42. Lynn, Columbia, Mo..

    Why don't they just ban high fructose corn syrup instead?

    February 11, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  43. Shane

    Yes! Everyone at my company is paying double in HMO premiums this year because of excessive claims last year. My employer likes to hire obese, elderly, and chain-smoking people because they'll work for lower wages. Everyone else pays for this in higher insurance premiums.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  44. Gigi

    No, offer them reduced rates for pounds shed.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  45. Linda in Arizona

    Absolutely. They drive the cost of health care up for everyone. And they should also pay for an extra seat on airplanes if they spill over into the seat next to them, or can't fit in their own seat. Jeez, what a nation of hogs.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  46. Jeff

    This is the most absurd idea I have ever heard. My father's side of the family has a history of heart disease, my mother's side has a history of cancer. Am I going to have to pay higher premiums because I may actually have to use the benefit I'm paying for? If the government is going to intrude in people's lives, why don't they go after the business' that contribute to the problem instead; that being the fast food and tobacco industries?

    February 11, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  47. Jerry Harris

    Yes they should, if they would exercise a couple times a week, mostly pushing away from the table then they could shed pounds and not only feel better but save money on food and insurance

    February 11, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  48. Jack - Lancaster, OH


    I am not for more taxation. I could see a lipid excise tax being considered on snack foods, like a cigarette tax. It would surely produce one heck of a bureacracy though. Perhaps it would create a "Fat Czar", no perhaps, surely it would.


    February 11, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  49. Robert

    I smoke. I pay higher insurance premiums because I smoke. I am also hit with ridiculously high "usage" taxes on every pack I buy. Why shouldn't obese people pay more since they, like me, have a higher risk of various illnesses because of their lifestyle choices? If you're a bad driver, you pay higher premiums. If you're a bad eater who gets no exercise to burn off those excess calories, why shouldn't you pay more too?

    February 11, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  50. Susan, Orlando, FL

    Yes, they should pay more. I am healthy, not overweight, eat right and excercise, yet I'm one of those people who still has a slightly elevated cholesterol level no matter what I do. My insurance company charges me 20% more because of this, so people who are overweight should have to pay more too.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  51. Bradley S. (Knoxville, TN)

    I am Obese and I consider the premise to that question to be discrimination in itself! If I can even get health insurance in the first place! I am supprised that no one has filed a lawsuit over this.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  52. Kelly

    Absolutely Jack !!! Unless it is a birth defect or otherwise NOT their fault they have become obese, why shouldn't they pay more? They require more care, and develop other diseases related to obesity. Why should fit, healthy, tax paying people like me flip the bill for another individuals bad choices and pure laziness!!!! This is a direct result from the latest generations of American parents. It sickens me Jack !!!!!

    February 11, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  53. Karen - Missouri

    Absolutely NOT. So now the insurance companies want to squeeze money out of people like Wall Street and the banking industry has? Enough!

    February 11, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  54. Maynard Thomas, Catlettsburg, KY

    What would be next, charging minorities more because of their tendencies to suffer from hypertension, diabetes, etc? The answer is NO.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  55. James in TN

    I'm not sure on this, I guess if they paid more for health care so would smokers, smoker, people who do drugs, people who don't excercise...umm the broad sideof a barn, I mean tax whatever you want it's not going to change some peoples habits

    February 11, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  56. Jon

    I agree that those that smoke or are obese should pay more for health care, but BMI is a horrible scale. On that scale, Shaq in his prime physical condition would have been obese. They should just use the much more reliable body fat percentage.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  57. Bob in Indiana

    No Jack, thinner folks should pay less.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  58. Casey | Sebastopol, CA

    Sure, Jack... just as soon as we start taxing fast food for adding to the problem...

    Seriously? Not all obesity is choice-related... many low-income families don't have the luxury of choosing vegetables over starches - unless you live in California, vegetables and fruits are often too expensive for average households.

    And let's not forget high-fructose corn based sugars – subsidized and promoted by our own federal and state governments...

    February 11, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  59. Denis Duffy

    Only if you start with the "fat cats" in Washington.

    Pittsburgh, Pa.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  60. Melissa

    No. Now THIS idea is what I call robbery.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  61. DEE

    Since Health insurance pemiums are currently based on the collective health of all of its members, then I say yes obese people should pay more fir Health insurance.



    February 11, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  62. Jake, Oregon

    Why not, people with bad credit are singled out by insurance companies to pay more for their coverage. What would that do to obese, drinking, and bad credit people for health insurance? It's time for insurance companies to grab the bull by the tail and face the situation. If you can't stand the risk, try flipping burgers instead. ... All these businesses who want to shirk their responsibililties.....It's why we're where we are.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  63. Joe Minnesota

    Sure if anybody who doesn't wear a seat belt, a helmet or a condom while having a good time, or who enjoys a cigarette or a drink after having said good time also gets penalized.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  64. Dick from Indiana

    No. That does not go far enough. We should tax unhealthy foods to the tune of the total health care cost resulting from consumption of the junk on our grocery shelves. Then those who eat pay the price.

    February 11, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  65. joey yankee lake n.y.

    No this is just Government trying to take over our lives. People better wake up before we are all in chains. Socialism is really slavery by the Government. Wake up America!

    February 11, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  66. Diane/Allentown, PA

    Unless an obese person can prove they are in a weight reduction/exercise program, then yeah, charge them extra.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  67. Mike, FL


    Its time for 100% national healthcare for all. Now we start with fat people, then next we rule out others. Sounds like Communism to me!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  68. Doris/St. Louis

    Yeah, sure then we can charge people with anorexia more, what about people with disabilities, and don't forget preamature babies, the elderly,etc,etc.... If we start that trend, we will be on a sure path to nowhere!!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  69. Jamie

    When we finally get around to having Universal single-payer health care, this question will be irrelevant. Let's hope that's sooner than later.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  70. Rowland

    My answer is a big fat yes.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  71. Margaret from SC

    Just charge the overweight and smokers a higher deductable. It's easier and accomplishes the same thing. It's an incentive for some to quit and a reward for those that already live healthy lifestyles!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  72. Martha of Michigan

    If health care was a right instead of a luxury all people including the obese would have access to take better care of themselves. Let's get single payer health care in place, NOW!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  73. Bryan Newport News, VA

    No. Offer a discount incentive to people willing to take a physical exam. if they pass, discount. if they choose not to do it, no intrusion into thier lives, but no discount either.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  74. Liz in CA

    Wouldn't that lead to illegal hiring discrimation? I can see companies justifying not hiring "obese" people (who would define obese?) because it would cost them more. They hire smokers and alcoholics, so where does it end?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  75. Abdul Sallaj

    Not all numbers are created equal. I just make the clinically obese mark for my height and weight, yet I run, have great stamina, and weightlift. I have a wide frame and people are surprised when they hear that I'm "clinically obese". I'm not sure what I should do..stop weight lifting...run more??

    February 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  76. Gabe

    Sure why not? I have to pay more for car insurance because my car is faster than most. I pay more for my car insurance because my car is the color yellow and is a two door. So why not? This could help motivate overweight people to lose some weight.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  77. Vas Totapally

    It makes a certain sense, it would be concerning if the measures became draconian – for example, if they extended to people who were merely overweight, rather than obese

    February 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  78. Jayson in San Diego

    If it is true that there is evidence that obesity MAY have a genetic component, even in a small part, then having people who are obese pay a premium for their health insurance might end up being unconstitutional.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  79. Martin from Austin

    No, I think charging obese people more for health insurance is disgraceful and shasdgfsfdgv....I'm sorry, I dropped my chocolate covered fried bacon on my keyboard. Obesity is genetic.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  80. Pat long

    Smokers pay more
    Why shouldn't fat people?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  81. Bill, Bristol CT

    Forget about fat people paying more, no one should pay anything for health insurance!

    That point aside, discrimination against the obese is one of the few legal forms of discrimination left in this country. Every day overweight people are turned down for leases, home loans, even better paying jobs, simply because of their image. No governmental body should be allowed to further legitimize the practice of marginalizing an entire group of people, especially one that makes up over 30% of the population.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  82. sharon

    No they should be treated like everyone else. Why should they be singled out. I thought we were all created equal.......

    February 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  83. Ryan

    They should definitely pay more. I am a fit, 28 year old male. I exercise and watch what I eat. I have no major health problems and am outraged that I pay the same amount as overweight, unhealthy people who wouldnt need to go to the doctor as much as they do if they were not overweight.

    Clover, SC

    February 11, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  84. Michael Scott

    It's reasonable for insurance companies to charge a higher premium for higher-risk customers. But BMI is the wrong way to do it - it looks only at height-weight proportion, not body composition. A very fit, muscular person could be classified as "obese" just going by BMI.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  85. Daniel

    How about instead of punishing fat people, they reward healthy people. By charging healthier people less than everyone else we can add intensive for the fat people to lose weight. Mike Huckabee had a successful program similar to my idea during his tenure as Governor of Arkansas. Maybe this can help solve the obesity "epidemic".

    February 11, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  86. Doug

    If making obese people pay more for their condition is the way to reduce health issues or lower our national obesity rate then by all means Go for IT!!!!! We haver a real health epidemic in this country someone needs to do something about it. If you have an existing condition your premium will be higher than someone without any health issues. The same should be true for obesity. However, BMI should not be the measuring tool used, it is highly inaccurate and has deceptive results.

    You Rock Jack!!!!!!!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  87. John Stone


    Obese people shouldn't be charged more, as they usually die sooner than non-obese people, thus costing the health care system less in the long run. Perhaps they should get a credit instead?

    John from Moosup, CT

    February 11, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  88. Bobby- East Lansing MI

    At this rate people who eat peanut butter should have to pay a higher premium, too.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  89. Roberto

    Gee, why not just execute them. Then they can do the same to women who get pregnant and those who get into a car accident or injured in Iraq. Wouldn't that get health care down to affordable levels?

    But the best idea would be to execute all those lawmakers and just start over ... good golly people, what are you thinking?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  90. Eugene

    No. My wife has a thyroid problem and we both exercise 5-7 days a week. She and I both eat very healthy. We rarely eat red meat and we never fry foods. She would be one of these people paying $25 more even though she is probably the healthiest fat person you will ever meet.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  91. Mike

    As one of those "Fat" people, I say "Yes" and make it such a significant burden that it is truly an incentive to loose weight. Obviously the drive to be fit is not a significant motivator, but money would get me moving. If it cost more to take care of me, then I should pay more.

    Pemberville, OH

    February 11, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  92. Mimi

    The practice is discriminatory to single out only the obese. If the practice is consitutional then everyone involved in things that adversely effect their health shoul have their rates should increased.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  93. Fanny

    This is not a matter of picking on fat people. It is a matter of fairness. They cost more to insure so they should pay more. Whether they eat themselves into oblivion or they just happen to have an other problem it is going to cost more to fix. In the mean time those skinny people shouldn't have to subsidize their cost. I thought this was an abashedly capitalist society that belives in one's own way in life.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  94. Bob Smith

    Sure, if my car insurance rates are based on my credit score–why shouldn't people that have at least some control over their health be charged for negatively impacting it?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  95. thomas r. chybinski

    it's true some are obese for medical reasons.they can be weeded out.
    the ones you see driving down the road shoving doughnut down their pie hole should pay more. It' a matter of self control.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  96. Stu

    Do these guys/gals read? Do they know anything about science and medicine? Not everyone is overweight by choice and not everyone who's skinny is healthy. Can the South exist without completely alienating and condemning one portion of its society? Their track record says no.

    Here's an idea – fund health awareness, nutrition, and fitness programs that will help the entire population of state employees be more fit. Eliminate Coke and fatty snack machines from government office buildings and replace them with healthier alternatives. Provide an incentive for employees to walk or bike to work – which would increase their health and help the environment. You know, productive stuff, as opposed to this ignorant witch hunt garbage that some Southern government cooks up every 15 years or so.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  97. Lisa B in Yucca

    Should we also charge more in monthly insurance premiums to prostitutes and gays because they run higher risks of AIDS and otehr STD's?, or health workers because they are exposed to all kinds of diseases? or those with families histories of certain kinds of cancers or diabetes?, or the mentally ill because some are more prone to accidental or behavioral injuries?
    Why not the elderly that naturally develop more ills as they get older?
    Who else are we goiong to single out for negative special treatmentin this society?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  98. Robert

    Insurance is a bet against risk. And overeating is now documented and well-known as health risk behavior – as a fact it is now an epidemic. So, yes, they should pay more – on a pay scale with those living healthy lifestyles who should also pay less.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  99. bob

    It's nuts jack. Will insurance companies punish you if you eat junk food, drink beer or are an A personalityl What's next your religion your ethnic background! Big brother. Does S Carolina grow peanuts?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  100. Brodie

    Considering how much of our national healthcare expenditures are for a completely preventable reason, yes, obese people should pay more. If their own health is not a motivating factor to slim down, maybe money would be. Otherwise, the rest of us are stuck with the bill.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  101. Nondis from CA

    I thought we were trying to get better health care for all. One step forward, two steps back. Obesity is a health issue and should not be punished because they are not the so call perfect people.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  102. Bill

    My family and I have lived in the Upstate of South Carolina for 12 years and it is obvious that a lack of quality education cements these folks in bad practices. Whether electing incompetent politicians or excessive smoking because of outrageously low cigarette taxes (7 cents/pack), or high DUI deaths, ANYTHING this under educated, under taxed, backward state can do to improve health will save their lives and the rest of the taxpayers' money.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  103. JB

    I wish people would start taking some personal responsibility for their health. If people would spend as much effort on improving their health as they do trying to find excuses for their obesity, everyone would benefit. We are a society of excuses instead of solutions. Yes! Increasing health insurance premiums for obese people is both a good idea and perhaps a way to persuade those to improve their health!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  104. Jon Garcia

    I believe yes! Not only are these individuals creating an unsafe environment for themselves in case of an emergency, but they are also putting their fellow workers at risk simply because they are not in shape, nor do they care to be in shape.

    If I was an employer, I would have tests ran that would test the physical abilities of my employees in the form of emergency evacuation procedures.

    I am a college student at Pacific Lutheran University. PLU Campus Safety has to undergo tests to insure how quickly they can run a mile in order to ensure quick and prompt response to emergency situations on campus. The obese populous should be required to do the same, especially in the industries that have high risk working environments.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  105. Bill of Hewlett, NY

    The obese should pay more for health insurance when their obesity has resulted from lifestyle choices. This is a matter of personal accountability. An exception should be made, therefore, for those whose obesity resulted from sickness. Furthermore, testing for obesity is not an intrusion into people's lives. If insurance companies can determine which insureds smoke, they are capable of and have a right to determine the insureds' weights.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  106. Georgia Bulldog

    As a middle-aged man who has fought weight problems all of his life, I find this idea offensive. If the idea is to save money by somehow excluding or penalizing groups that cause the cost of healthcare to rise, then I have a question to pose - why stop at the obese? Why not the poor? Or, perhaps, racial groups that have statistically higher incidents of health problems. Oh - of course, the elderly are the biggest users of healthcare. Why can't we rule out the old?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  107. Bruce in Colorado

    No Jack, I think it's simple. Put a sin tax on fatty foods and all the sugar ladden beverages like the Government has on Alcohol and Tabbaco products. Waste this money on Government Programs and be no closer to a solution. Isn't this how we stop a problem(sorry issue) now? Lets throw a bunch of money at it.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  108. Purnell K3 IL.


    Most Politicians are fat and they do not have to pay for their insurance, make them come out of pocket like the rest of us, then they would learn that on one can afford to pay for insurance, it just cost too much. Those people would not be fat if those same Politicians who take money from the big farmering companies were not pushing for higher prices on foods that would help people stay in shape!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  109. Ramone - Iowa

    If people are initially overweight due to health issues, then the extra charges should not apply. But many of us are "Obese" due to the standard of living we set for ourselves and the free-will standard America has set since day one. There's more "burger joints" than Subway's, more cars in transit than bikes and more time to sleep and eat since there's NO JOBS...the stats don't surprise me Jack!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  110. Zach

    I don't know anyone in my family that is 'in perfect health.'

    I am a diabetic, my wife is 150 pounds. We try to live healthy, we do not take drugs, smoke or drink, but in the eyes of a pencil pusher insurance lacky looking to save the health insurance company a few bucks, I would be surprised to NOT see my insurance rates go up.

    I know we are in a depression, but please, we are still human beings.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  111. Susan Streetman

    Definitely NO. Where does this sort of thing stop? Have you ever read the side effects of some cancer and other catastrophic disease drugs? Severe weight gain is among many effects. My oncologist promises me that in a year when I am finished with systemic chemo drugs, I, as the average patient has, will shed 40-50 lbs just getting off the drug. Women are already punished by not having "the pill" covered, yet men and Viagra are PAID. All menopausal hormonal women will have one more thing to become ax murderers over. That time of life is hard enough. OMG! How about potential AIDS patients, drinkers, etc . Why punish those who pay for healthcare and quit covering people who don't pay because they are here illegally to bear an infant "citizen?" How about putting healthy food on the shelves?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  112. Bob Clow

    Yes Yes Yes, America needs to be held responsible for their actions. We need incentives for people to take care of themselves. Money seems to work.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  113. Ria

    Carbondale, IL

    I think obese people can be fairly charged extra for health insurance so long as their obesity isn't due to other health issues. Like smoking, overeating and refusing to exercise is a lifestyle choice albeit and unhealthy and detrimental one. If a person wants to impose avoidable health issues on themselves, their jobs should be able to impose extra fees on them. I would love for to at least get a discount for being fit. I am responsible and care about my family enough to make good decisions regarding exercise and diet, reward me! We shouldn't have to pay extra because everyone else is lazy.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  114. Seth from Long Beach

    If they are measuring only by body mass index, then I would be considered overweight. I am a good 160 pounds and have only 11% of body fat. My body mass index rating shows me as being overweight, though. First of all, there are simpler, more accurate ways to measure fat percentage levels, like skin calipers and the good old tape measure. Ido not believe in raising fees specifically for those who are considered overweight, but in a system that would offer inexpensive costs for healthy foods, while taxing junk food as the "fee" for health insurance.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  115. Stefanie Stancato

    I believe that if someone is over weight and they don't have any of the health problems that can be linked to weight, such as diabetes, then yes, they should pay more for health care. They have made the choices to eat unhealthy and not include excercise into their lifestyle. So why is it fair that someone who is perfectly healthy pay the same premium as someone who is in and out of the doctors? If smokers pay higher rates, then so should obese people.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  116. Angela Tacoma Washington

    So now live each day weighing my self to know if I need to call in the next day in fear of a weigh in?... That is like asking employees to compete with looks and the better one gets a higher salary... Oh what was I thinking... it is already like that...

    February 11, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  117. Donna

    Jack, that one is easy...being overweight has inherent health issues of their own (just like smoking)! Both smoking and overeating are bad health habits that can be stopped, if the smokers and overweight people wanted to stop bad enough. Life insurance premiums are rated higher for smokers, so the same should be the case with health insurance. I don't smoke, I eat healthy, I am not overweight, and I strongly believe that I should be rewarded for my good habits by paying less for these insurances than those that don't have good health habits!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  118. Scott F. Williams

    Sure, Jack. Health insurance should be priced according to statistical risk. Otherwise, low-risk individuals would subsidize those in higher-risk brackets. For sure, obesity is largely a lifestyle choice and NOT a sickness. Fat folks should pony up just as those who drive recklessly must shell out more for driving insurance.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  119. Ted Lane

    YES........ we cannot mandate laws to make people stop their gluttonous behavior and their lame excuses. BUT...we can make them pay their fair share for the extra costs of their bad choices.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  120. Peggy O'Connor

    Ha ha...I assumed the "Fat Tax" would come right after cigarette tax. I warned people soon they'd be paying more for twinkies.
    Healthcare just a different way to take away money, typically from the poor. With the price of bread almost $3 a loaf, oranges going for $1 each lots of families getting "Fat" because they can't afford to buy healthy food. Anyway you slice this loaf of bread it's wrong. Cigarette tax opened a huge can of worms. What's next? State/Federal mandadet diet and excercise programs?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  121. joanie adams

    We are not fully socialized yet, so, yes obese people should have to pay more for their health insurance. And people that work hard exercising and carefully watching their diet should get tax credits for their efforts in avoiding high medical costs. Most of us do not gain weight just "breathing", but from excessive consumption of everything from alcohol to fried foods–a very characteristic American past-time!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  122. Dan from Alliance, OH

    I think a rewardsd program would look better than right out charging more to obese people. But I am against smokers as well. I quit a 3 pack a day habit 20 years ago and still have the urge once in a while but I stick to my decision.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  123. Brenda Breedon

    Jack I've battled weight my whole life. Taking off weight isn't the problem – I've taken off thousands of pounds. Unfortunately, I can't keep it off. There's a lot more to this than "will power".

    Until the medical profession takes the time and trouble to figure out why manny people (like Oprah) can't keep the weight off (and that's the vast majority of the obese) than stop blaming the victims.

    I'm a sick and tired of us fat folks being the last group that it is still politically correct to malign. We need more medical help not less. The medical profession is letting us down badly.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  124. James Bosheya

    Definately they should be fine. Refusing to change eating habit should be regarded as a crime: Insteady of going to jail they should pay high fine every three months while good healthy living promoting be distributed to all the neibourhood.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  125. Peter Weber

    If statistics are available that the majority of food stamp recipients belong to the category of obese people then this federal support should limit food stamps to pay for healthy foods only.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  126. Pat Helm

    No Obese people should not be charged more for health insurance. Neither should people who smoke or have other health problems due personal life styles. Its getting absolutely ridicules that congress would even consider letting insurance companies do this. It should be illegal for insurance companies to do this. I mean for heavens sake they make enough money as is. If they want to be in the insurance business then they need to stop trying to come up with ways to milk more money out of people’s pockets and stop trying to make excuses on why they can’t cover people due to preexisting conditions and personal lifestyles. If they can't do that they shouldn’t be able to be in the insurance business.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  127. Colleen Brooks, Charlotte, NC

    haha volume discount-I like that!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  128. LB

    Insurance companies already deny over weight individuals when applying for any type of insurance if they are over a certain weight based on their height. It should be left up to the insurance company and the individual applying. The government should stay out of it all together! Unbelievable, they obviously are getting something out of it.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  129. lou beausoleil

    dear jacques poor president obama every body is so negative what ever happened to the american ralleye one thing that people use to say you as a nation were all there to support your country no matter what . the news media are at times only report the negative very little about the positive please find something to give to the people they are waiting for some good news. a canadian friend

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  130. Carol

    Instead, how about a hefty tax on Big Macs, pizza, and Twinkies? Nip the problem in the bud.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  131. Humblerants

    Jack, I heard you mention that people would be determined to be obese by their BMI - Body Mass Index. The thing is, the index is horribly flawed. it doesn't take into account body composition. It basically says "Hey you're 6 foot 250 lbs, you must obviously be obese and unhealthy". If this 6 footer at 250 lbs. however was a professional athlete at 5% body fat who could wrestle wild hyenas and be in superior health, the BMI would not reflect this, therefore I don't support something utilizing the BMI for determination. I do however favor obese people paying more if their weight isn't a problem because of overeating but instead a genetic problem. I think anyone engaging in a lifestyle that is detrimental to their health should pay more for insurance just like homeowners living in obvious areas where natural disasters like tornadoes commonly occur should pay more for home insurance. But I also feel that plastic manufacturers especially who use synthetic estrogens that affect everyone int heir daily lives and expose us to these dangerous chemicals should also pay more into the system. What those people get away with is a disgrace, and just goes to show money is indeed more important to the FDA than the true safety of people.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  132. tat2droadie

    charging more for obese peoples health insurance what are they thinking ....Look at the great examples set by being health by Jim Fixx, and Euell Gibbons. I'm over 300 lbs with no health problems and I out Lived Both of them by 30 years .....

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  133. Darin - Cedar Falls, IA

    I think that the author of this proposal really has something. If these overweight people in South Carolina are going to be sucking up a good portion of the health care funds, they should be charged more. I know I wouldn't want my hard earned dollars being spent on people who can't take care of themselves while I try to live a healthy life and watch my health care dollars get eaten away. However, the incentive you talked about seems to be a better and more fair route to take.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  134. Robert H

    No No NO! This is discrimination!!! Should we charge more for balding men because they are more likely to use rogaine? More for women who could get pregnant? More for joggers who might trip and fall or get stress fractures? How about more for teenagers because they don't use good judgement? This is the WRONG way to cut medical costs – the RIGHT way is to reduce the cost of services instead of letting drug companies, hospitals and doctors from overcharging for goods and services.

    Since when should a 15 minute Doctor visit cost over $100 to begin with? Or bandages or splints be hundreds of dollars. Heck, Jack, I had to pay $50 for a month of Crestor (30 pills) and that is WITH insurance!!! Next they'll have a sliding scale based on Cholestorol levels.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  135. Lawrence

    i happen to be obese and dont think that obese people should be picked on. i dont think they should be charged more because of a weight issue. its something that can be taken care people are like this because they have no money because of our economy. Remember although were obese we only have one life to live and live life to the fullest not trying be like petite or muscular.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  136. me46

    Health insurance drives up the cost of medical coverage, not obesity. It's time we abandoned health insurance in favor of universal medical coverage. If every free country in the western world can afford universal health coverage, so can we. When every unhealthy condition increases the cost of medical insurance, none of us will be able to afford it. Oh that's right, we can't afford it.

    Las Vegas

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  137. Marla

    Well Mr.Cafferty I myself have s litle pity for obesed people. YES they are obesed, YES they can control try to control their weight BUT; you never know whats going to happen and you can become one of these obesed people, would you liked to have higher health insurance.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  138. Bert Morgan

    Jack it must be a slow boring day today?Is this as good as it gets for lack of a better question!
    I have a better question Jack.Should people with a receeding hair line pay more for there health care?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  139. Richard Lopez

    YES! and I'm half way to obese myself.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  140. Julie M

    I believe junk food companies should pay taxes for national health care. Can I get an Amen??

    Julie M.
    South of Houston

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  141. Debb

    YES! There are too many over size people in the country that exspect to get special treatment , if it's because you have a doctors noted illness, not just that you can't get off you bum and stop eating so much, then there should be an exception for you..

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  142. dee whiting nj

    No obese people should not be charged more for health care. Obesity is not a disease but is often symptomatic of disease. Diet and exercise programs can unfortunately lead to endocrine system imbalances and metabolic disorders resulting in even greater weight gains only making the problem worse.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  143. chrissie

    I believe, people who knowingly put bad food into their body, which will increase the chance of developing diseases like diabetes, heart disease etc, are irresponsible to themselves and should absolutley pay the price.
    Very simple.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  144. Jai Lenoir

    No, I do not think overweight people should be charged more for health insurance. It would disproportionately affect women (especially during child bearing years). Obesity is not always caused by overeating. It is also a cruel reality that men lose weight faster and keep it off longer, while women hormonally change throughout various phases of life, directly impacting health, weight, and quality of life. It would be much easier to regulate those who grossly neglect their health. Let us not forget those who have eating disorders other than overeating – anorexia, bulemia, or those who are chronically underweight and deliberately deprive themselves of nutrition to be thin.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  145. Charlie - La Crosse, WI

    Absolutely! We should not subsidize the self-destructive lifestyle choices of over eaters, smokers, etc. People's pocketbooks are also the best incentive to changing their behaviors and thus improving and prolonging their lives.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  146. Tim in Philly


    Overweight people are paying more for healthcare now. All insurance carriers use height and weight charts to determine risk and "rate up" those individuals based on their physical characteristics. For individuals falling outside of insurable parameters they are already excluded from coverage. This is may be NEWS, it is not NEW.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  147. Cody

    Greetings from Landenberg PA Jack!
    I'm a 15 year old Sophmore from Avon Grove High School and would like to contribute...
    You said that the people would be considered obese based off their B.M.I. There is a problem with this, that being that most football players, baseball players, basketball players, etc. are considered overweight, because of their muscle not fat. Even though they are not obese. This could propose a problem to anyone that weight trains or has muscle on their bodies.
    It would just be unfair
    Just my 2/cents

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  148. Legacy

    I say yes! Insurance policies are drafted based on risk...A person who is obese is more inclined statistically to be prone to various types of ailments that impact the cost of coverage. Everyone needs to pay their respective portion of the insurance burden. Floridians pay higher premiums because they are prone to hurricanes, cancer patients pay a larger share for their care so why shouldn't obese people be held to the same standard.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  149. Andrea B., NC

    This is not something that health insurance companies should be trying to deal with, or profit from. I'm sure these insurance companies employ people who are obese; what would they think? Not to mention, development projects are popping up all over the place, and what do they build? Fast food! It's on every corner, and it is widely known that eating a balanced diet is more expensive than fast food. Only in a capitalistic society can we expect to profit from things like McDonalds, while at the same time profiting from higher premiums for obesity. What does that say about our world?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  150. Joyce

    YES, YES, YES. High risk drivers pay more for car insurance. Certain businesses pay more for their fire and hazard insurance. It wasn't until we knew scientifically that smokers had increased incidence of certain disease plus higher taxes on cigarettes that smoking began to decrease. The majority of the public also became intolerant of the second hand polluting effect by smokers. No more excuses for and tolerance of obesity. If you want to be fat, pay for it. If overweight is a medical condition get a doctor's waiver.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  151. Gene Merriman

    Its not a question of punishing those (obesity). The question sould be of those who maintain thier health, sould they receive lower premiums?
    Like auto insurance, I am a vey safe and defensive driver who does business with those companys that reward me for it. Yet when it comes to health insurance it seems to be the opposite.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  152. carolyn

    simply...yes. I do beleive in incentives though, but If after incentives to loose weight, obese people choose to continue bad eating habits and refuse to participate in exercise programs thereby taking more from the healthcare system, then they should pay more.
    I am in healthcare and have seen physicians urge patients to loose weight...unfortunately most ignore the message. It is disturbing that healthy people should pay the same. Some of us choose to live a healthy lifestyle which will ultimately result in less need for healthcare benefits.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  153. GL

    Absolutely! It's about time. The obese cost all of us more money in premiums due to an over use of a knife and fork. I feel the same for smokers and anyone who lives a lifestyle that "insures" a future of certain long-term hospital care. Should they lose the weight, the added cost should disappear as well. There is no better incentive for getting in shape then hitting them in their wallet.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  154. Stan in washington

    Yes. Where I live they have an incentive program and if you dont co-operate there is an extra charge of 50 a month. It makes people wake up because having health insurance makes you very lazy in how you take care of yourself. It was taken from me years ago and I woke up finding that if you dont take care of yourself your screwed.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  155. Greg, Birmingham, AL

    It is not unusal for life, health and property insurance to "rated" because of unique risks that cause the likliehood of loss to be greater than the so-called norm. For example, the cost of life insurance is higher someone who enjoys jumping out of a perfectly good airplane with a parachute.

    So, it seems quite logical to charge someone more for, say, health insure if they are obese given what we know today about obeisty and health concerns. On the other hand, some people can not help obeistiy and it is a know fact that certain medications can cause significant weight-gain.

    So, for those people whose weight is literally a matter of choice, sure, charge them more, but onky after a reasonable amount of time has been provided to lthem to lose the excess weight under correct, medically supervised conditions.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  156. dani mitchell winterset iowa

    Yes fat people should pay more for health insurance. Smokers should pay more too. I'd like to see substance abusers pay more too because they tend to have more health problems. Maybe we should just hike up the prices for junk food, cigarrettes and booze and call it a day.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  157. Rashard

    Hmmm. I would say depending on the person's health, if they're suffering from a disease beyond their control then no. However if this is the case whereas Mcdonald's, Checker's, and Burger King are an adult's nightly menu, then you have your answer. The increase should be all the incentive Porky and friends needs to shed the weight. A prodigal call to all, I presume.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  158. tom

    Last year texas added a dollar per pack tax on cigarettes because of health costs they say, now the federal govt. adds another 62 cents a pack for child health care. Should overweight people be charged more. YES.... We smokers have seemed to become social outcasts, what do obese people think when they eat that next bon-bon or ho-ho and then the people have to put up with them on airplanes, buses, restrauants etc. when we are trying to teach our children how to watch what they eat , drink, and exercise to stay fit.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  159. Mark Aamot

    Once again we are making the poor pay for our financial problems. Many if not most overweight people are overweight because the cheaper food, which they can afford, is high in calories and low in nutrition. From our school lunch programs to cheaper fast foods the poor are caught in a situation where to eat normal amounts is to become obese.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  160. chris rigopulos

    First, I will assume there is statistical evidence that obese people are at higher risk of chronic costly health problems.

    So, if we accept the first point, then I don't see why obese people shouldn't pay more. The insurance industry is built on identifying risk profiles and pricing them accordingly. Automobile insurance works the same way. Male drivers under the age of 25 pay more than any other demographic (or at least, this used to be true in NJ when I was <25) because they are perceived to be at highest risk of accident.

    What am I missing?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  161. Anne McSwain

    Really, fat people.......alcoholics, anorexics,smokers, drug users, people with blond hair (they get skin cancer), etc, etc etc. Can't we all just get along. If I pay for health coverage shouldn't I be treated the same as everyone else covered with health insurance. What insurance company is paying you to help increase their profits? Jack, Jack Jack, wake up and smell the bacon and eggs.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  162. Greg, Tallahassee, FL

    You Mr Cafferty along with many other people in the news media need to learn the facts before you open your mouth. You blame diabetes on obesity. What you are not telling your viewers is that only type two diabetes is caused by poor health control. I, as a type one juvenile diabetic resent being catagorized as causing my problems. Type one is not preventable type two is.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  163. Michael, Liverpool, NY

    It is tempting to say so but no we should not because it is discriminatory towards fat people. I support the other method of rewarding people with premium deductions for doing healthy activities instead.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  164. DrJMarcus from Florida

    This is nothing more than a witch-hunt targeting a specific group of people in order to blame them for society's troubles, high costs, and to label them as a detriment. Unlike smoking, drinking or other drug use, obesity is rarely a choice, and is in many instances a direct result of other underlying health issues. Why not also charge people more for eating fried foods? Coffee Drinkers? Or the poor whom tend to eat cheaper, nutrient-deficient foods that directly result in health issues? Or perhaps specific ethnic groups due to specific diseases that they are genetically predisposed to? This is a slippery slope, and if one can justify this, then where does it end?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  165. Kevin

    Jack, yes they should pay more. I pay a higher premiums because I'm a smoker, they should pay a higher premium for the super sized meal they choice to eat.

    Bradenton FL

    February 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  166. Abe

    Sure. When getting life insurance, if your a smoker you are either denyed or have to pay more premiums. There are also government funded programs for people morbidly obese to loss the pounds and make them contributing members of sociaty. If you don't take care of yourself than, why should others that do pay high premiums to support you?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  167. Cameo

    If obese Americans are going to have to pay higher costs for health insurance then they should have access to programs that help them lose wight via their insurance. People don't always know how to eat the right way. What is the correct balance of food vs. exercise.

    I've been lucky for most of my working life to have insurance but I've yet to have any plan that would cover the cost of me seeing a Nutritionist to learn those skills.

    Then there is the issue of the high cost of food. Eating healthy isn't cheap. Buying fresh fruits and vegetables and leans meats that are better for you costs and when pocket books and you're trying to keep food in the refrigerator you have to cut money where you can and it normally equates to the better foods because they are more expensive.

    Memphis, TN

    February 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  168. Carone Stucky

    Absolutely obese and over weight people should pay more for health care!!! I'm a BSN registered Nurse and and realize the hugh health risks involved with obesity. Why should healthy normal fit individuals eventually have to pay more for their health insurance due to the higher percentage of illness related to people who are over weight. Thus as society ages and more and more people live longer , and higher %'s are obese, Health care will continue to increase thus eventually inabling more and more people not to be able to afford health care. This would be a great incentive for people to be healthier and thinner, so their insurance would be less if they became more fit.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  169. Tim from Phoenix

    Absolutely, if you can show me an obese person who maintains a healthy calorie in take of between 1940 calories a day for women and 2550 for men (Source: U.S. Department of Health) and excercises 30 minutes a day 3 times a week. I'll pay for their healthcare. But until then let them eat cake and pay more for the associated increased health care required.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  170. Michael

    I don't see why they would need to pay more, if they are at least doing something to lose the weight for better health. But, over-weight people do cost companies more time lost for health issues. They need to do what ever it takes to get healthy. It has been proven that if they lose the weight, the better they fell.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  171. Hunderson

    I think it's madness to ask obese individuals to pay more for health insurance costs based on that fact.
    What about those individuals who have certain medical conditions and cannot shed the pounds?
    What we need is better legislation to help combat this disease – education or social programs to help bring awareness is key; not health professionals pointing fingers to whom they think might not fit the bill.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  172. Rosanne

    Some people are obese despite doing everything reasonable to control weight working hard and long to control those factors within their control such as diet and exercise. As with heart disease, there are some causative factors that can be controled and some a person just has to live with. Why not think about noncompliance generally for the myriad of items such as medication noncompliance, which bring people to medical care innumerable times over the course of years unnecessarily.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  173. lucy in san francisco

    Sure, as long as we also charge extra for smokers, people with eating disorders or depression, motorcyclists, skiers and skydivers, type-A personalities, people who willingly stay with abusive spouses, drug users and alcoholics, the disabled and those with chronic illnesses. My thin, non-smoking, healthy sister fell off a bike and suffered brain damage. She was hospitalized for weeks. The insurance companies will never get those kinds of bills for fat people.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  174. David in Volcano

    Insurance is a numbers game. It's only because of the sheer numbers of Americans inflicted with weight related diseases that health insurance companies are reacting this way.

    Decrease the incidents of obesity, diabetes, and other weight related health issues and insurance companies will not resort to these tactics.

    America needs to clamp down on the food industry and convince them to remove all the bad food additives. This will help cut down on the incidents of obesity, diabetes, and other weight related health issues.

    Just as JFK started a national fitness program, America desperately needs a national nutritional program to deal with America's bad eating habits. We need "real" nutritional standards for the food industry and an end to "Color No. 5", etc.

    We at the Volcano House Project are committed to good nutrition, combined with a healthy exercise regime.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  175. chi

    This should be traced down to what we produce for consumption.Once this ismonitored i think we would have less obesed people in the country.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  176. Larry in Los Angeles

    HELL YES, Smokers and Fat people should pay more! Maybe then and only then they will get the message that their risky behavior is bad for them and cost the rest of us MONEY.

    If they dont straighten up they will have less money to damage themselves and us.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  177. Jean-Rene Thibault

    I have been in the medical insurance busines for 39 years. Even though over weight people have a substantually higher rick of illness, I do not believe thet should be charges extra premiums for medical coverage. With group insurance, insurability is not required for any condition. In California, you only need two employees to qualify for guaranteed issue regardless of past helt conditions. However, for individual medical insurance, very heavy people are charged extra premium. That is discremination. Jean-Rene Thibault, Laguna Niguel, CA

    February 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  178. Purnell K3 IL.


    I can't beleive that you want to help the insurance companies that are robbing you all blind, and deny you the care that know you need, giving them more money so that they can get far richer on your dime. Plase stop the madness, we need to get rid of these gatekeepers to healthcare companies, they care nothing for people only the dollors!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  179. Susan

    No! Studies seem to suggest that we each have a set-point weight range, and we can't force our weight below that range without significant struggle. Should certain people be penalized for having a higher natural weight than others? That's not fair. If there are going to be penalties, they should be based on choosing unhealthy behaviors, not based on something so biologically influenced as weight.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  180. Todd Ayer

    Making people who are obese because of poor diet and zero to little exercise pay higher premiums may be the kind of "tough love" wake up call these individuals need. Although there are those individuals who are unable to control their weight due to health issues, most put themselves in this state of obesity and it is unfair that the rest of us should continue absorbing the costs for these people simply because they are lazy gluttons.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  181. Mike

    All these "new" jobs seem to be based on shovel ready or immediate action public works projects. While I applaud the effort, I wonder what happens when a project is completed. A worker is employed to work on the Fairfax bypass, and when it is done? I need to hear more career or long term employment opportunities invested in. I think education is the most direct approach to that end, however, immediate stim packages are a short term fix. In five years, when these projects are reching an end or a maximum output, where will these employees go next? Don't think I am not an Obama supporter, I am. But FDR saw this in 1937 as a retraction occured, and had a world war to bail out the second downturn. This is uncharted territory. I don't think we will have a world war this time to muddy the actual effectiveness of a government action. I'm just wondering what you think the long term employment opportunities will be once the short term "fix up" jobs have been spent.

    Mike Coburn

    February 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  182. Barbara

    The answer to this question is no, no, no. If we open this pandoras box we may never be able to close it. Imagine what would happen if insurance companies begin to increase policies based on risk factors that may be related to race. Don't go there.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  183. Laura

    No, that is just silly. The people of South Carolina deserve better from State Law Makers. The Law Makers need to be focused on creating jobs for the people that gave them theirs.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  184. Marilyn M

    Yes, obese people should pay more for health insurance. But insurance carriers should cover preventative health care such as nutritionist visits, exercise programs, smoking cessation programs, etc. People who are health conscious – vegetarians, vegans, regular exercisers, etc. should be rewarded with lower insurance costs.

    Our insurance and health care systems need to start practicing health maintenance rather than crisis care. We need to educate people in how to live healthfully. We need to get the dairy and beef councils as well as the poultry and pork lobbies out of schools and nutrition/diet materials. Those are the industries whose "food products" are making people sick.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  185. matt balmer

    While I'm sure there will not be a proposed reduction in insurance costs for those who actively pursue a healthy lifestyle, I do think those who do not take their health seriously should pay a higher premium.
    However, I do object to the use of the BMI as a tool to determine a persons health. The BMI doesn't take into account lean muscle tissue compared to a persons body fat percentage. A persons body fat percentage would be a somewhat more accurate means of determining someone's overall fitness level.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  186. tim

    health insurance is a joke.... we need health care... not insurance....those middle-men/women have blead the countries business' and the government dry.... i remember when you went to the doctor and you paid a doctor bill.... i believe all our problems in this country started with the insurance "RACKET"....

    I guess my answer is NO....
    eventually reason will be the rule of the day.... i hope it is sooner than later...


    February 11, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  187. Marsha Sherman

    Absolutely not, Jack. First it will be obese people, then smokers, then people who have lived too long. Where is that one going to end? Insurance companies are no better than banks. I'm a smoker, and when I asked for my insurer to pay the $118 (which I don't have) for the pill known to work for 70% of the people who used it to help quit smoking, they would not. So it appears that they prefer I continue to smoke and will pay for all the illnesses from it. These insurers (I would hope) will be next in line after the banks to get hauled in front of Congress because they have been misuing funds almost as badly as the banks. They have personal jets, take expensive junkets and own many homes here and abroad instead of paying for treatments needed by their insurers. Doctors are fed up and so am I.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  188. Robert Z.

    No – Some people are genetically inclined to be obese. What would really help is to ban some of the food additives that are a large part of what is causing the crisis of obesity in this country.
    Especially the "Diet Food" products are very bothersome. There are many good reasons that the Japanese have banned all artificial sweeteners. They use a lot of Stevia which the FDA used to ban till a few months ago.
    There are many other food additives and byproducts of poor practices such as Trans Fats.
    using Stevia as a sweeterner.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  189. Marti Perkins

    YES, obese people should be charged more for health insurance! Most obesity is not caused by inherent health problems, but by human choices. I eat right and work out between one and two hours six days a week, and I am healthy and at a normal weight. I don't use very many health care dollars because of my lifestyle and habits, primarily. Why should I have to pay to help take care of those who refuse to take care of themselves? This is a national outrage and we should be ashamed of ourselves for letting this get SO out of control. Marti
    Longview, WA

    February 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  190. NK

    Some smokers claim they smoke because it keeps the weight off. If smokers want to quit smoking at the risk of gaining weight, what sort of incentive do they have then if they'll still be charged higher health insurance premiums?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  191. Evan in WV

    If insurance companies single out just one group (smokers for example) then they can go after any group. Skydivers need not apply for insurance!

    All or none!

    BTW – I thought the concept of insurance was to help people when things go wrong, like a family functions. Not to leave one of the kids outside when it's minus ten degrees!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  192. Ken in KS

    No way. Anyone thinking otherwise needs to take of their blinders and see that it is singling out one type of individual without taking into consideration a person's overall health.

    I'm thin and less healthy than my plus-sized wife who eats healthy and bikes 70+ miles per week and she has excellent blood pressure, cholesterol levels – whereas I do not.

    Finding a way to identifiy and single out unhealthy people, like myself with poor eating habits and high blood-pressure, would be a better way.

    PS – Why leave out smokers but include fat people. Obviously one of the bill's sponsors hates fat people... I love them.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  193. Peggy O'Connor

    This is really over the top. Most overweight persons are poor people surviving on $1 menu's and cheap filling, unhealthy foods.
    Let's screw the poor a little more!!!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  194. Seth Pedigo

    That is ENOUGH! I'm a 20 year old in KY and I weigh in at 260 lbs and I am a farm hand working for UPS but laid-off at this time. These jobs take some type of motivation, I cant help that my metabolism is lower than an average human, but my health is great, but my weight is considered obese. This is a crock, I skip meals now because of lower income and i have no weight loss, I can't even get the money to pay all my tuition. IM'BARELY GETTING BY! And now your telling me that just because I'm a little over weight have to find more money I DONT HAVE! So I guess skinny people don't drive, thats a health risk! Or what about the ones that don't EAT AT ALL, look at the health risk for that! This is a crock.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  195. Bert, San Juan PR

    They already gladly pay for the luxury to be fat buying their food, so paying more for health insurance will not be an incentive to lose weight.

    However, they might as well pay more for this choice when it comes to the resulting increased health expenses just so the rest of us dont have to carry that extra weight.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  196. Al D

    You bet ya!
    I work as a firefighter. The majority of medical calls I perform involve the obese. We need to send some kind of message to instill the need to be healthy.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  197. Purnell K3 IL.


    I can’t believe that you want to help the insurance companies that are robbing you all blind, and deny you the care that they know you need, giving them more money so that they can get far richer on your dime. Plese stop the madness, we need to get rid of these gatekeepers to healthcare, they care nothing for people only the dollar!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  198. lyle stencer

    I'm not sure how you would structure a fee, but, just as the economy is in crisis –so is Americas waistline. While Canadians have weight issues also, I have to say that after a weekend trip to Syracuse I was amazed at the parade of obesity walking or I should say, waddling through the mall. In each restaurant that we ate at ,we noticed that near the end of the meal the waitress would say to each customer "Are you still workin' on that"? We were amazed at the size of our meal portions. I have a very good appetite and I couldn't finish my meal. You shouldn't have to "work" at your meal. A fee would really be a band aid when really the whole food culture has to be changed and integrated with a healthy lifestyle so that the waddlers can become walkers again!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  199. carol from PA

    Most of us have been taught to clean our plates, and when fast food chains like McDonald's and Burger King began "Super Sizing" our meals, we had no choice but to eat everything in front of us. And with having to "tighten our belts" so to speak under the Bush administration, we all felt that we really needed to get our money's worth. Instead of chraging more for overweight clients, why not have the insurance companies offer free counciling on nutrition and offer exercize programs so we can become healthy. Of course they wouldn't want to have a nation of healthy people. How would they ever

    February 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  200. Dennis in Tampa

    The basis of ALL Insurance is RISK, whether it be home insurance in Florida, compared to Iowa, or car insurance for teens vs. adults. Health insurance is the ONLY insurance where we all pay the same. Disgraceful! Why should people with self control and who take care of themselves be "punished" with higher rates because the insurance carrier has to spread their high risk for the obese to those who are not obese! Furthermore, there should be a point where someone is so massively obese, that they become either uninsurable, or pay extremely high rates. Everyone has choices in life...those that make the right ones should NOT finance those that don't care to!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  201. Gene from Tulsa, ok

    I have to agree with the idea of obese people paying more for health insurance and I'm an obese person myself. With exception of actual medical reasons that hold some people back, most obese people do this to themselves and therefore I have no sympathy for including myself. Besides some health insurance companies already charge more for weighing over a certain amount, I would know I'm 6'5 370 pounds. They shouldn't call it a penalty for the obese they should call it a discount for the healthy. Car insurance companies do it all the time with safe drivers.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  202. hannah from Florida

    of course they should. After that increase the price for those with high blood pressure and high cholesterol and then for all those who were not born with the right set of genes. Gimme a break. Any excuse to raise what we have to pay.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  203. Purnell K3 IL.


    I can’t believe that you want to help the insurance companies that are robbing you all blind, and deny you the care that they know you need, giving them more money so that they can get far richer on your dime. Please stop the madness, we need to get rid of these gatekeepers to healthcare, they care nothing for people only the dollar!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  204. Kim from Farmington, NM

    No. If you make obese people pay more, then all people with any diseases should pay more. What about the other end of the weight chart? Anorexics and Bulimics? These people have health problems related to being underweight and not eating enough. This can go on and on. All health insurance should go down not up. Also, BMI is not an accurate measure of obesity. All obese people are not unhealthy and believe it or not, there are skinny people who are unhealthy and unfit.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  205. Rob in Missouri

    Jack, obese people should pay more for health insurance because they cost more If you don't make the obese people pay more, you are putting the cost on the other people by making it more expensive them. Actuarial tables will tell you that obese people are at much higher risks for not only catastrophic health complications which are very expensive, but also injuries that happen to people everyday. It follows that they should have to pay more for that coverage. People at normal weight have a lower risk and so they should pay less. Its not about punishing or rewarding people, its about risk distributions and the real costs of health care.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  206. Troy

    "Accountability" comes to mind when I think of the many social costs that we as Americans share. Managing ones Health, Finances, Education and Carbon Footprint are just a few of our civilization's responsibilities. I believe a tax on obesity is no different than a tax on the size of ones paycheck. If you weigh or make more, then why shouldn't you pay more? Where this becomes sticky is when human emotion is factored into the equation. However, If you are appropriately managing your life, you should not have any issue with this...responsibility. And healthcare is a growing American cost...

    February 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  207. Matt B.

    If I have to pay more insurance because I decide to smoke, then why is it so preposterous to require Obese individuals to be accountable for their life choices as well? It seems that Fattest population in the world yet again refuses to accept the consequences of their condition, even if it is forced upon them.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  208. Peg

    Sure, lets also include those who are hypocondriacs, drinkers, less than 20/20 vision, non flossers, soda drinkers and nail biters. Lets just go back to a one payor system. Want to save money in the health industry? Get rid of the insurers.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  209. Angie

    This is a tough one for me, although I am overweight. However, I am only overweight due to what you spoke about on air – for other health reasons. Unfortunately, I have Lupus as well as spine-related pain conditions which require me to take many medications. Whenever I take steroids, which everyone knows, it causes bloat and moon face, and every time I take them, after they wear off, it takes longer and longer for the weight to come off. Also, my nerve pain medication has a common side effect of weight gain. Even with all the medications I take, I still have pain and stiffness. And I want to make sure to mention that I had physically gone to physical therapy religiously for over 1 year (3 times per week) and when I lost my job, I could no longer afford the payments for their after-care program. So I have some items at home that I used in PT and I do most of these exercises at home. And all these medications, plus many times pain, cause me to have no appetite. It's funny...I am overweight now but have no appetite at all. But strangely I do not lose any weight. And the only reason I became overweight was when my severe spine and some other joint problems developed. I literally cannot go for walks, can't use the bicycle, really cannot do any sort of cardio that really gets my heartrate up to burn calories. I wish I could swim, but I don't have a pool and cannot afford to join somewhere that has pool access. And to be honest, I am not even sure if I have a full diagnosis, but again, I cannot afford to have many of my health issues checked right now due to losing my job. Before my spine problems occured (at age 33 out of the blue) I was thin and fit and religiously went to the gym for 2 hours every other day. But suddenly a lupus flare hit, then my spine problems started in and progressed very rapidly until I could hardly walk at all anymore. I don't want pity or anything like that. I even tried Alli for a while, but did not lose any weight either. Diet pills wouldn't do me good because I already have no appetite. So something permanent has happened to my body beyond my control. I have done everything I was told to do, even had lumbar spine surgery. But now I have scar tissue problems and I still get other arthritic pains. I can tell you that life is sooo much more different and difficult now after gaining weight. I am not "obese" but I still look totally different than I did even in 2003.

    Even my own sister, who has 4 autoimmune diseases herself, has had to take steroids (and should be on them now per her doctor); she always gains a lot of weight while on them and could not stand it anymore. Now she refuses to take them because of weight gain and other problems, but it may possibly affect her health and life. She really needs them to keep a condition under control that affects her breathing.

    I really wish there was some way for me to lose weight again, but I know it is not my fault and not due to over eating. One would be surprised how little I eat and what I eat. It is definitely not right to be charged more! At least not if one has health issues that might be causing the weight problem. If one is just lazy, then perhaps that might be another issue.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  210. Carol

    As a size 18 woman I say NO. Everybody else gets a break, why not us?
    Also, to charge portly ladies the same price, (on home shopping and qvc ),as you do a size 2 for the same garment is ludicrous. I love it!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  211. Lauren

    I definitely believe this would motivate some obese people to lose weight; however, what about the thin drug users and fit steroid users? The risks for heart attacks, strokes, and major health problems are increased in them too. So, what about them? If obese people are forced to pay- they should be forced to pay too. All because a person is not obese doesn't mean they are always healthy.

    Lauren in New York

    February 11, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  212. Dave, Cape Cod

    No they should pay the same premiums as everyone. But......they may have to pay more for co-pays and/or deductibles as care is needed. It is effectively a yes that they will pay more. But to front load premium charges for services not yet used doesn't seem right and has a discriminatory odor to it. Better yet, look at the other healthcare systems of the major civilized countries, adopt the best of those systems, and this question is moot. The day our healthcare system "gets a grip" and becomes a "caring for the health of our citizens" as opposed to a "healthcare for insurance companies profit" we will be a better nation.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  213. dani mitchell winterset iowa

    Yes fat people should pay more for heath insurance and I'm one of those horrible fat people.
    I'm a registered nurse and I should know better but I like to sit and watch CNN all night rather than exercise.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  214. C.E. Family

    No! That's discrimination plain and simple.

    I exercise; eat right; monitor my vitals, etc., and I still can't lose weight. So should I be penalized, why some “skinny b&%@*!” that smokes and drinks black coffee and contracts UTIs get a better price on health insurance. I think not.

    Didn’t an underweight model drop dead on the runway recently, do you think had a price cut on her health insurance? And apparently thin or skinny does not equal good health.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  215. Jeff, Minneapolis

    I'm neither obese or a smoker, but I have to question the blanket statement, "smoking and/or obesity cause an increase in health care costs."

    Is it really more expensive to care for a smoker who dies of lung cancer at age sixty? Maybe it's more costly to care for a fit person who dies at age ninety, but requires fifteen years in a full care facility.

    Has anyone actually seen a study on the costs or are we just picking on fat people with bad habits?


    February 11, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  216. boke

    Some times obese is not by choice.if the insurance companies take extra bucks from them then they should encourage them to shade the weight by enrolling them in some kind of mandatory gym programs during the extreme weather. Otherwise why can't we consider the growth hormones in some foods

    February 11, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  217. R Traub

    Now this sounds good in theory, but there are too many factors that would make this unworkable. Yes our population has an ever increasing waistline due to poor lifestyle choices, however there is legitimate factors – such as the genetic link to obesity and now the recent discovery of a virus present in the obese that is not present in healthy weight people- that would make this proposal unfair. We should treat this as an epidemic, but do not punish the people whom are legitimately want and are trying to get healthy but are unable to because of other matters.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  218. Ken in KS

    Plain and simple – Why not let the people who purchase fast food, cigarettes, and alcohol subsidize the health industry by means of an "unhealthy tax".

    February 11, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  219. Hopeless in IL

    Sounds like unfair discrimination to me; the whole insurance industry needs to be overhauled so that healthcare is between a doctor and a patient, and not decided according to some rule, actuary table or other whim imposed by some insurance agency who doesn't know the individual situation.

    Today's health insurance system makes good and affordable healthcare almost impossible with all the hoops you have to jump through to get reimbursement at all, let alone decent reimbursement. This isn't how it's supposed to be. I'd much rather see affordable and universal healthcare for everyone. There are pleny of thin folks who have many of the same problems as heavy folks do.

    At least do it as an incentive based program rather than as a punishment. Offer more incentive to help people want to choose a healthier lifestyle–things like discounted gym memberships, discounts for wellness, offer free one on one nutrition classses; how about something like if you lose 10 pounds in a month then you get some of your premium back.

    I still think it's discrimination, pure and simple and as such, is not right, is very unfair; however, there are lots of possibilities that can make the idea more positive and appealing.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  220. lissette apo,ae

    first of there is a lot of obese people that is not their fault they are obese. second there are skinny people whom have all kinds of of health problems. this nation's people are becoming ridiculous. all people do is critic others no one is perfect.. why dont we start charging people for how ugly or pretty they are you think that will work? this is sooo stupid

    February 11, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  221. LD Moore

    Yes, BUT only if the anorexic and other underweight people who neurotically starve themselves to be a bag of bones like professional models.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:30 pm |
  222. Liz, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

    I think it would be very difficult to pose a surcharge on obese people, because no surcharge should be charged for those who are obese thru no fault of their own (gladular problems, etc.), and a surcharge should be charged for those who are obese through over-eating and lack of exercise. It would be too hard to differentiate between the two.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:30 pm |
  223. Lynn

    Is this a joke? Does anyone still have health insurance coverage?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  224. Matt

    If teenage boys have to pay more for auto insurance because they statistically have more claims than teenage girls, and crop duster pilots pay more for life insurance than office workers, then it is already an established practice to charge based on the statistical history of claims. Why should health insurance be any different? I say yes, charge the obese more.

    Eau Claire, WI

    February 11, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  225. Purnell K3 IL.

    Our food is almost worthless these day and now you want to attack each other rather then the companies that are producing this junk in the market place!

    February 11, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  226. Neatha from Kansas City

    My employer provided already charges a marriage penalty, if my husband works, I have to pay an additional $1000 per year for my coverage. It also has a smokers discount (so basically a smoker fee). They don't cover everything so heaven forbid if you really need help. And if you use it too much in a year, you get a penalty the next year. So explain to me again why we have for profit healthcare in this country. Give me the Canadian model anyday.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  227. Yvette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    Obesity is a disease. Aren't they supposed to want to help fight disease? Not charge only one group a higher premium for their disease? I am afraid what will be next if we allow for this.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  228. David in Indianapolis, IN

    Absolutely. It is a moral outrage that I am a perfectly healthy man who works six days a week, makes over 50k a year, and I am priced right out of the health insurance market because my employer doesn't help with premiums. On the other hand we have folks who have attrocious personal lifestyle patterns that render them very unhealthy. If you consume 2 pounds of mac and cheese and a bag of Doritos every day you should carry your own weight when in comes to paying for your poor habits.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  229. Angela Tacoma Washington

    Hey, just wait until the one who thought of that plan turns forty, then ask them again. He will find that his rate just went up...

    February 11, 2009 at 5:38 pm |
  230. Karl from SF, CA

    The three most useless occupations on the face of the earth, in this order, are Wall Street bankers, members of Congress and statisticians that calculate health care costs. Any questions?

    February 11, 2009 at 5:45 pm |
  231. Dave at the buffett

    I'm fat, But since I never go to the doctor, shouldn't I get a refund?? LOL

    February 11, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
  232. Andrew (Denver, CO)

    Of course they should pay more.

    I'd love to sit on the couch and devour pizza and beer, but instead I exercise discipline in my food choices, and shell out my hard-earned money for a gym membership. I haven't needed to see a doctor in 10 years, and yet I have to subsidize the medical care of people whose poor decisions and lack of will power have caused preventable diseases.

    It's your right to be unhealthy, but you are not entitled to have the rest of us pay for your choices.

    February 11, 2009 at 5:48 pm |