Obese In Alabama To Pay More For Health Insurance Coverage

Armen Hareyan's picture
Obese to pay more for Alabama health insurance coverage

Alabama employees who are overweight will need to lose weight, or else they will have to pay more for already less affordable health insurance coverage because of excess weight. This new Alabama health insurance law is introduced by State Employees' Insurance Board and will take effect in January 2011.

All working Alabama adults will be required to receive four additional screenings to define health insurance premiums. The screening will check for cholesterol levels, blood pressure, glucose levels, and body mass index (BMI). These are the most common risk factors that cost huge amount of money for the state to cure. Alabama officials now aim at reducing health care costs and they are going to do that by penalizing obese employees making them to pay more for health insurance coverage if they don't follow a healthy lifestyle. This seems to be fair to me, everyone contributes to the system, but according to his or her lifestyle choices.

As of January 2011 obese employees will pay $25 more than normal-weighted ones. A similar law already is going for smokers in Alabama, who pay $24 more than others do, and starting September 2008 the fee will increase to $25.

Such actions may sound very rood, but state officials don't just penalize the overweight by making them to pay more for health insurance, they offer a 2 period time for overweight adults to get in shape before implementing the health insurance coverage law. Employees will be offered programs, such as Weight Watchers and YMCA discounts, to lose excess weight.


However, health officials still think that the measures are too strict because the law does not take into consideration the genetic factor leading to many obesity cases, and they have a point here, which needs to be looked upon or reconsidered. There are also patients who need to be prescribed different medications individually to find the ones that work especially for them.

Health officials also argue that Alabama should take preventative measures by offering healthy food choices to everyone, rather than punishing for being obese. For example, most of workplaces and hospitals do not offer healthy food, and employees eat whatever offered. More needs to be done to create healthy workplace environments and make sure that employees can make healthy lifestyle choices.

Alabama health insurance law critics think that the law will not decrease the number of obese patients, moreover, it will increase it, because most will spend more money on health expenses and less money on healthy food.

Alabama is the second state with the largest number of obese people. There are about 37000 working adults, who are overweight and will be affected by new health insurance law. The first place takes Mississippi with 30% of entire population reported to be overweight.

The health care system and the health insurance market is changing slowly or rather evolving slowly to meet the needs of the 21st century America. Some states are going for universal health insurance coverage, some are adjusting their own insurance laws. What is next?