Will overeaters have to pay a surcharge? How about heavy drinkers or alcoholics? Drug users and addicts? Junk food addicts?Smokers could face sticker shock when shopping for individual or small-group health insurance in the new state health marketplaces scheduled to open this fall, due to a controversial clause in the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, that allows insurers to penalize smokers by continuing to charge higher rates to tobacco users.
President Barack Obama's landmark health insurance reform legislation ends decades of advantageous underwriting practices by barring insurers from, among other things, limiting lifetime benefits and denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
But the law widely known as Obamacare also aims to discourage tobacco use, the nation's largest preventable health hazard, which kills some 443,000 Americans each year at an annual cost to the nation of $193 billion in medical care and lost productivity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How do you combat tobacco use without discriminating against smokers? The ACA attempts this balancing act by allowing insurers to continue their practice of charging tobacco users a so-called "smoker surcharge" but limiting it to 50 percent above the rates they charge nontobacco users, beginning in 2014.http://finance.yahoo.com/ news/obamacare-penalty-kicks-s mokers-ash-100000795.html
These bad choices are preventable and costly health care hazards.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is among the most widespread and costly health problems facing our nation today and can be prevented through a healthy diet, limiting saturated fats, exercise, limiting alcohol and, of course, not smoking.
But controlling our personal decisions and punishing our bad habits has to happen gradually. Boozers are probably next.
Be prepared for "no drinking allowed" and "drinking free area".
Ironically, marijuana smokers will be toking their brains out everywhere we go in more states than just Colorado and Washington eventually and will still get cheaper insurance.
Basically, nonsmokers can drink like a fish, eat like a pig and use drugs until their heart's content and not pay more for insurance coverage.
So eat up...down the hatch...pass the joint and snort another line.
(Political correctness always manages to get itself stuck between a rock and a hard place.)