Friday, August 03, 2007

Latest insanity against people of size

Seems the latest insanity from some insurance companies is to force people not at a certain weight or cholesterol level to pay an extra amount of bucks per month for insurance or to give them a ridiculously high deductible like $5000 a year.

...Starting in 2009, Clarian Health Partners will charge employees as much as $30 every two weeks unless they meet weight, cholesterol and blood-pressure guidelines that the company deems healthy.

Employers are getting serious about penalizing workers "because they've run out of other options" said Joe Marlowe, senior vice president at Aon Consulting, a national benefits consulting firm.

Locally, the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has 90,000 employees, is researching financial incentives and disincentives to help bring down healthcare costs.

UnitedHealthcare, a nationwide insurer, introduced a plan this month that, for a typical family, includes a $5,000 yearly deductible that can be reduced to $1,000 if an employee isn't obese and doesn't smoke.

Last summer, a similar plan was offered to county workers in Benton County, Ark. The $2,500-a-year deductible can be reduced to $500 if a worker meets low height-to-weight ratios during yearly on-site physicals. (According to federal guidelines, a man who is 6 feet tall is considered obese if he weighs 221 pounds or more. A 5-foot-6 woman is obese if she weighs more than 185 pounds.)

Thomas Dunlap, the county's benefits administrator, said the plan had witnessed a nearly 30% drop in claims — and provoked changes in the workplace.LA Times story
Well, of course they received a reduction in claims... if there is such a high deductible... hello?

I wrote to the reporter of this LA Times story pointing out the following:

It's a well known fact that:
  1. heart attacks happen in people with all cholesterol levels- high and low
  2. statin drugs to lower cholesterol levels have umpteen side effects
    1. significantly raise the cancer risk ..see
      2. (talks about risks of lowering coQ10 levels
    2. cause muscle problems and now are suspected to raise the risk of type II diabetes
  3. obesity by itself isn't a risk - it's the LIFESTYLE which causes the risks i.e. fat and slim couch potatos have a 40 percent greater risk of heart attack than slim and fat exercisers (Cooper Institute studies of 29,000 people for one)
  4. Forcing people to diet is not only fruitless since 95 percent regain the weight within 4 years of losing it but also:
    1. Weight cycling or yo yo-ing weight increases the heart attack risk by 50 percent
    2. Dieting itself, not only increases heart disease risk but other risks as well even if the so called "risk numbers" improve
I have a better idea to cut costs! If the insurance companies discontinued financing all the unnecessary surgeries being done which are both expensive and in some cases (like gastric bypass) extremely risky and riddled with complications which are expensive to treat, they could not only significantly lower their costs but also improve health - if that was what they were interested in.But I think rather they are in bed with the docs and hospitals to make money and making the public pay MORE for it and could care less about public health.

I was contacted today, by a 31 year old who just had a gastric bypass. When she saw the list of possible complications which her doctor gave her AFTER surgery, she freaked out. "I have 3 children and don't want to be sick" she said to me, weeping over the phone and added "how can they call this surgery 'lifesaving'?"

It should be noted that the so called "risk numbers" which these insurance companies are demanding to be low or else they are overcharging clients - these risk numbers are also low in terminal cancer patients and AIDS patients but can we really say they are less at risk for comorbitities?

This new insurance scheme seems just another way of raising the rates of the average person to increase the revenue for the medical and pharaceutical industry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After surgery, AFTER SURGERY?! How freaking immoral is that?!