Thursday, January 14, 2010

I Sense a Theme

A number of my posts this week equated weight with health. As some of you may already know, one reason why I maintain my anonymity is that, believe it or not, I am a professional journalist (you wouldn't know it from my writing here). And, one of the beats I cover is the health care industry.

Needless to say, now that it appears that health care reform legislation is an inevitability, there are a lot of unhappy campers out there in the health care industry. I've been talking with quite a few people in the biz this week---insurance executives, brokers, consultants etc., and while they accept the inevitable they all say the same thing.

The legislation, they say, does not address the real reason for skyrocketing health care costs in this country. The cost of health insurance and providing health care will not be contained, and health care will continue on its unaffordable trajectory.

The reason why health insurance has gotten so expensive, they all say, and costs will continue to skyrocket is that Americans have simply gotten too fat and lazy.

Excess weight and lack of exercise leads to health issues, and these issues are starting to crop up in Americans at younger and younger ages. The number of people tackling diabetes has grown substantially over the last two decades and is impacting people at younger and younger ages as is cardiovascular disease.

To make the connection the more insurance companies have to pay out to treat people with weight-related health care issues, the more we all pay for insurance. That's how insurance works. It spreads the risk. If overall costs go up for the insurer, then the cost for insurance for all individuals or groups goes up.

Even if you work for an employer that self-insures (meaning your employer pays for health care not an insurance company), if your co-workers are overweight and have higher health care costs, that translates to you having higher insurance costs (and your employer makes no profit on health insurance when it chooses to self-insure).

Diabetes and cardiovascular disease can often be avoided if people just consumed fewer calories and moved more. Somehow or another Americans have come to believe that they can consume 3,000 calories a day in soda, fast food and processed low-fat snacks, and that taking a 20 minute walk around the block is all the exercise they need to combat that excess calorie intake.

Well a 20 minute walk only burns 150 to 200 calories and is barely a dent in the excess junk food calories people consume daily.

Weight and health are directly correlated. We need to all eat better and work movement (not necessarily just exercise) into our daily routine not just to look good, but to feel good, and to control health care costs for all of us.

1 comment:

  1. Good points. The smoking, the drinking, the poor food choices, and lack of activity takes its toll on all of society.

    In spite of all of those, our insurance company, United Health Care, made a billion dollar profit last year.