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Should the Government Have Say in How You Eat?

by John Hansen

Health Care in California is Expected to Get Real Personal

You’ve heard of soda taxes and bagel taxes in New York. Even a fat tax was proposed. “Weigh in, buddy. Uh oh, you’re weight’s up, so that means that your taxes are going up as well.” This sounds like a preposterous idea from a George Orwell science fiction book, but it may just be the reality that we will be facing with regard to health care in California in the future.

Californian’s Growing Interest in Your Personal Health Habits

The government, and therefore tax payers, has been paying for health care in California since Medi-Cal and even more so since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). When you make poor health choices that lead to medical problems, you end up at the doctor or the hospital. Health care costs go up. Health insurance premiums rise. The government has to fork out more money because you just haven’t been able to lay off the Oreo cookies.

In the past, your obsession with cake has been your own deal. But now your fellow Californians are all paying the price for you to have those little treats. Everyone’s chipping in for your diabetes care and your heart problems. And they’re beginning to think, “This is starting to feel a little bit unfair.”

YOU Just Might Start Noticing How Well Others Are Taking Care of Their Health

Hmmm… This is really starting to cost me money. Shouldn’t that fat guy have to pay for his own health care? Shouldn’t the folks that engage in unsafe sex have to foot the bill for the medical services they receive related to their STD’s?

More and more healthcare is expected to get personal. Why? For the simple reason that now, due to Obama Care in California we’re all in this together. The insured are in a big pool, and the healthier that pool is the cheaper your premiums will be.

So when people don’t take care of themselves, that’s costing you money. All kinds of unhealthy activities lead to disease and an increased need for medical services, and this all works together to raise your insurance rates and to increase your taxes.

So What’s Everyone Looking Out For?

They’re looking for “irresponsible” or “unhealthy” habits that could lead to an increased need for health care services. If any of the following apply to you, you just might be a suspect. The health care police may come knocking on your door.

  • Do you smoke? Smoking kills people. We’ve known that since the 70’s. It’s time to get on board with the program, buddy. We don’t want to pay the price for your cancer sticks.
  • Are you overweight? Fat people are bleeding us broke. Higher rates of diabetes. Higher rates of cardiac problems. Overweight people are filling our doctor’s offices and hospitals. Lose the weight, or we’re coming after you.
  • Not exercising? You heard about death by sitting? Laziness and the sedentary lifestyle is going to lead to all kinds of un-health and medical problems. Get moving, buddy!
  • Poor diet? You know you need to eat more vegetables. Less sugar. Fats and oils may be suspect. You might want to try eating organic. Those pesticides cause cancer, and we don’t want to pay for your chemotherapy.

What Will They Do to Me If I Don’t Take Better Care of My Health?

Step 1: Testing and Awareness – Expect health care companies and government agencies to start giving surveys related to your health. Then at some point, there will likely be mandatory testing and reporting based on various health outcomes. These results will be made public, and they will likely be fodder for political debate.

Some Businesses are already using BioIQ to evaluate their employees. Based on the results, workers get certain discounts or perks.

Step 2: The Carrot – Once the information is known, now we need to motivate toward achieving higher health care outcomes. We need a little positive reinforcement. That will likely come in the form of:

  • Praise
  • Discounts
  • Extra benefits

Step 3: The Stick – Don’t be deluded into thinking that the carrot will be good enough. Positive reinforcements will make the health nuts feel really good about themselves, but likely it will do little to motivate the lower achievers. Expect “punishments” to come quickly:   

  • Fines
  • Increased premiums
  • Penalties