How Obamacare Fuels The Obesity Epidemic

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Recently, the CDC announced that America has made a new high; not in the stock market, but in obesity rates:

A troubling new report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that almost 40 percent of American adults and nearly 20 percent of adolescents are obese — the highest rates ever recorded for the U.S.

Many contributing factors have been blamed for causing and/or fueling the obesity epidemic, including, but not limited to: overeating, poor diet, physical inactivity, prescription medications, all the crap that is on grocery store shelves, toxic chemicals, diseases, and just plain old genetics.  But while Obamacare certainly can’t be blamed for America’s ever-increasing obesity, the law has added fuel to the fire, and in a manner that has gone unnoticed by most Americans.

First, it is important to understand exactly what part of Obamacare has changed the health insurance equation; the requirement that individuals cannot be screened for pre-existing conditions or denied coverage on that basis.  While it sounds like a “fair” and equitable idea to force insurers to cover the riskiest patients who need coverage the most, its method of implementation has certainly left “healthy” individuals with far higher premiums relative to their unhealthy counterparts.

I signed up for an individual health insurance plan in 2011, after Obamacare was enacted, but prior to its implementation.  The plan complied with all ACA requirements, but insurers could still “screen” me using their existing process.  I was asked a slew of questions; my age, gender, health history, and questions about my personal habits, including, but not limited to; gender, smoking status, alcohol consumption, exercise habits, risky hobbies (i.e. skydiving), and basically any other question you could imagine an insurer would use to quantify what my premiums should be.

After the ACA, the only questions an insurer can ask about a prospective patient are: age and smoking status.  I was previously under the impression that under the ACA, insurers could charge higher premiums to women, as they use health services far more frequently than men, but “gender rating” is actually illegal under the ACA.  

What does all of this mean?  It means that all of those questions that insurers used to ask to quantify risk are now off limits:

Under Obamacare, many factors that influence healthcare expenditures are excluded from premiums. For example, premiums make no distinction for obesity, likelihood of having a baby, alcoholism or pre-existing conditions.

Before Obamacare, an insurer would have charged a much lower premium to the healthy guy, and a much higher one to the obese guy (if it chose to cover him at all).  Without being able to assess the risk of individual customers, the healthy customer ends up paying more, while the obese customer ends up paying less.

Under Obamacare, a 30-year-old male, with a BMI of 18, who works out 5-6 days a week, eats as healthy as possible, and has absolutely no health problems whatsoever, ends up paying the same amount in premiums as a 30-year-old male who is 600lbs, eats two pizzas and drinks two 2-liter sodas daily, and has been previously told by his doctor that he needs to lose weight, or be at risk for heart disease and diabetes.  

Ladies and gentlemen… this is how “socialized medicine” works in practice.

And, what makes this problem even worse?  Skyrocketing obesity rates:

Obesity Rates Timelapse – 1990-2013

Healthy people end up paying for the associated health problems of their obese counterparts via higher premiums, and as obesity goes up…

Obesity Rates – 2017

…so do insurance premiums, as even the government’s own HHS website has been forced to admit:

  • Average individual market premiums more than doubled from $2,784 per year in 2013 to $5,712 on in 2017 – an increase of $2,928 or 105%.
  • All 39 states using experienced an increase in individual market premiums from 2013 – 2017.
  • 62% of states using had 2017 premiums double what was measured in 2013.
  • Three states – Alaska, Alabama, and Oklahoma – saw premiums triple from 2013-2017.

Zerohedge made an incredible observation about the obesity epidemic when this report was released

The consequences of the obesity epidemic are devastating: High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke are not only killing millions of Americans annually — the obesity epidemic is also a humongous burden on the American health care system, making up $190 billion a year in weight-related medical bills.

…and summed it up succinctly with another quote:

Luckily, Obamacare socialized the medical cost of these bad habits…so enjoy those McDonalds fries and we’ll all share the cost of your blood pressure and cholesterol medications…it’s just more ‘fair’ that way.

Obamacare has socialized the cost of obesity by refusing to allow insurers to give incentives to customers to remain healthy, and to price customers according to their health risks. A record number of adults are forgoing health insurance in spite of the law’s mandate, and healthy individuals who do not “need” as much medical care as their obese counterparts are undoubtedly fueling the “opt-out” increases from Obamacare.

To be fair, the ACA didn’t start the obesity epidemic, but the law is without any cost impetus to change unhealthy behaviors.  The law has all but thrown gasoline on the obesity problem, by bringing the costs of insurance for obese individuals down, and greatly increasing them for their healthier counterparts.

Of course, this fact is likely lost on Obamacare’s liberal defenders, most of whom likely have top-tier employer healthcare to insulate them from the reality of Obamacare’s failures.