I am not overweight.
I am, however, paying significant health insurance premiums subsidizing many less-healthy people who are so grossly overweight that they are experiencing chronic medical problems. The obesifying of America is only going to make it worse as deaths from weight-related illnesses like diabetes are increasing at alarming rates. As an employer I grow tired of paying out $4K+ for employee health insurance premiums and then, as an employee, another $4K+ for the remainder of my health insurance premiums.
Getting health insurance companies to recognize me as a healthy, low-risk individual and putting me into a low-risk pool (as good drivers are able to do with auto insurance) is not likely to become an option in the near future, while I am still healthy enough to take advantage of it.
So here’s my idea. Add a surcharge to every restaurant and fast-food meal that is based on the average “health rating” for that restaurant. The health rating is simply the total number of calories of food purchased by the restaurant, divided by the number of meals served – giving an average caloric count per meal. The surcharge is to be collected as a direct reimbursement to lower overall insurance costs. If we can’t get insurance companies to lower their premiums or health care providers to reduce their costs, then we can at least come up with a more creative way to pay those costs than simply increasing premiums by 20% year after year. Think of it as a cigarette tax on gluttony.
This is not to penalize restaurants but rather to force people who are habitual gluttons (or simply bad eaters) to pay more for the health costs that we will all eventually incur for their bad habits. I imagine that McDonalds will need to add hefty surcharges, as well any place that sells chicken wings, pizza or Chinese food.
The hefty taxes added to cigarettes were certainly one reason that cigarette use has decreased in America. Maybe charging us for choosing unhealthy eating will have the same effect on our consumption of stuff that is not good for us.