Alabama State Employees Must Pay For Coverage If Obese

by Ethan Calvin

Alabama is the first state in the U.S. to require state employees to pay for their health insurance if they are obese.The Alabama State Employees’ Insurance Board will assess a charge of $25 per month if any of the 37,527 state workers have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or higher and doesn’t show weight-loss progress.

According to the LA Times, this plan was approved last week. Alabama will give their employees until January 2010 to lose the weight. As it is now, they charge smokers $24 a month for their insurance. If you smoke and are obese, the fee will be $49 a month. An Insurance Board member is quoted as saying, We are trying to get individuals to become more aware of their health.”

On the surface, the proposal makes sense. It’s widely accepted that being obese is a health risk – risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and a myriad of other health problems. So why not penalize people for being unhealthy?

Apparently, there are numerous answers to this question. Most of the opposing answers are expressed by the Alabama state employees who have a problem with obesity.

The response to that is that not every overweight person is unhealthy. It has been researched and proven that half of overweight people have normal blood pressure and cholesterol. Out of obese numbers, a third have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels. An Alabama state worker says, .”[The new plan is] terrible. Some people come into this world big.” This will be an ongoing debate.

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