A headline that caught my eye – ‘German MP: overweight people must pay more on health.’ A prominent conservative politician in Germany (Marco Wanderwitz) has boldly suggested that those who are overweight should pay more for health insurance. I love reading stories like this. It’s such a controversial subject, but I’m sure it’s one that most people have some or other opinion about.
Wanderwitz has argued that it simply isn’t fair that anyone should have to foot the bill for those who intentionally choose to lead an unhealthy lifestyle. While he certainly has a point, the problem with this line of thinking is that it could easily be applied to other contentious health issues like smoking, drinking, sun-tanning and leading a stressful life in general. All have negative effects on an individual’s health that someone who is being more health conscious will have to foot the bill for. It would be great if one could tax people for doing any of these things, but how do you monitor unhealthy behaviour? Very soon we’d have a police state on our hands.
So, do you think fat people should pay more for health insurance? Think quick. Yes? That would’ve been my answer under pressure, but at the same time, I don’t think there are any simple solutions to problems like these. Obesity is definitely a major health issue, and I don’t think people should be allowed to live in a state of denial when it comes to being overweight, but should we really go the ‘fatist’ route, because it really isn’t fair then that we overlook other pertinent health issues. Hmmm ….
The CBS news article I read on the German MP’s proposal included a poll on the whole issue. The results were fascinating:
- 53% of people who took the poll agreed with the German MP, stating that obese people have no one but themselves to blame and should definitely pay more for health insurance, as people who take better care of themselves shouldn’t have to pay for the bad habits of others.
- A mere 14% felt that obese people shouldn’t be blamed for something that they can’t control. In other words, it isn’t their fault that they ended up that way.
- 33% voted that they weren’t sure. They felt that obesity is a complicated issue related to genes and behavior, and that we should try to help those who are overweight by attempting to understand the science better.
I can’t help but wonder how many fat people voted in this particular poll. Did they perhaps make up the 14%? Haha, I’m just kidding, but the 14% category does bother me to some extent. Whose fault is it that someone consumed countless calories? Surely the overweight person concerned is primarily responsible? Unless someone held a gun to their head and forced them to eat 10 cream cakes every day! Perhaps the most balanced category is the third, as it recognizes the fact that weight gain is related to multiple factors – genetic, emotional, psychiatric, etc. Perhaps we should be attempting to understand the science better. Any thoughts?