German Health Insurance: Making Fat People Pay More

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?

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5 Responses to German Health Insurance: Making Fat People Pay More

  1. Max Stupple says:

    Hey, where’s your MD that allows you to declare so boldly that fat people are fat because “of their own fault”? Don’t you think that if this were true there would be NO fat people? Who would want to be fat (especially with jerks like you around)? Instead, medicine should find the real causes why people get fat and attack those instead of attacking the victims.

  2. candid_cactus says:

    I’ll bet that the 53% who voted in the poll that fat people have no one but themselves to blame don’t have an MD either. But what I was trying to get at with this post is that everyone has an opinion about this ‘controversial’ issue.

    I understand where you are coming from, but I think that the ‘who would want to be fat?’ argument is kind of weak. Perhaps nobody wants to be fat, but a huge majority of fat people love eating more than being a healthy weight. In other words, they aren’t willing to bite the bullet and sacrifice their enjoyment of food. In the battle of enjoying large quantities of tasty food vs. being a healthy weight and following a somewhat boring healthy eating plan, the former always seems more appealing. That doesn’t apply to all fat people of course – some (a minority I would think) have genetic, psychiatric, emotional disorders, etc.

    • candid_cactus says:

      Interesting feedback about the food industry in America, you are clearly quite knowledgeable about how it works as a whole. I’ve been meaning to watch the Food Inc movie for quite some time now. So many people have recommended it, so I think it’s about time I actually got down to watching it.

      The point you made about healthy foods being too expensive has really got me thinking. It’s really sad that empty calories are the only affordable option these days. However, surely even if we are eating unhealthy food items, it’s still a case of ‘less is more’ and output is just as important as input. Even if we are eating cheap fast foods on a daily basis, why so much? Portions don’t have to come in the sizes they do, and even if they do, we don’t have to eat everything just because it’s put in front of us. If we do, surely we should make sure that our energy output matches what we’re consuming. Obviously the ideal would be that we all eat wholesome, organic, healthy foods, but if we can’t? Surely we can still combat the problem of obesity by eating less and exercising more?

  3. Ken James says:

    You do realise that some people are overweight because they are FORCED to go on weight gaining prescribed medication for emotional/mind disorders, which make their appetites go bananas, and in this case it is almost impossible to be a skinny waif human being, when your medication BLOATS you and SLOWS down your metabolism AND triples your appetite.

    My God, I am in that situation… and I’ve lost 17 kilos of the 22 kilos i put on from the meds, and now Im slim with a small belly and I get laughed at by the whole f***king population… and people in health vitamin stores tell me to not drink beer… thinking im some kind of SLOB who just binge drinks

    The truth is I NEVER drink. I only eat junk food once a week and a small meal, and I only eat 2 meals a day and yet I am still BLOATED and FAT.

    I even take diet pills, 10 cups of black coffee a day, smokes, and exercise

    and I remain FAT.

    Some people just have it harder than others, so DONT BE A JERK!


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