Throwing our Weight Around: Healthcare Reform Targets Obese
Marilyn Wann never bought into professional modeling marketing-speak proclaiming that “Thin is In.” It’s not because her physique doesn’t fit the phrase. For her, it’s a widely-held bullying tactic for the current authors of health insurance reform. Marilyn tells New York Times reporter Susan Saulny that an increasing number of slender Americans blame fat people — not Medicare, nor pharmaceutical company profits — for the most historic overhaul of our healthcare delivery system since the U.S. Government started Medicare itself.
“We’re kind of a popular punching bag,” says Wann, author of the book, “Fat! So?”
Physicians, dieticians and the scientific community have proven that there is a common link between obesity and a slew of chronic and terminal illnesses, from diabetes to heart disease. Healthcare bean counters claim that fat people increase the entire cost of healthcare for everyone, since they are more often diagnosed with long-term disease.
We’re all aware of the doomsday, sky-is-falling stats that apparently prove we’re all eating funnel cakes, Twinkies and potato chips all while sitting in front of the couch watching The Biggest Loser every night. It’s the stuff that sensational television and reality series’ feed off of. To be sure, the Robert Wood Foundation (a think-tank on healthcare issues) just published a study showing that two-thirds of us are fat. In four states alone, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and West Virginia, more than 30 percent of its residents are statistically obese.
But Wann thinks it is somewhat discriminatory that corporate America is suddenly offering sums of money, free stays at fat camps and other incentives to overweight Americans in a thinly-disguised campaign to cut group insurance coverage costs while marketing the move as a gesture toward caring about the wellness of their employees.
On the flip-side, Wann and other obesity fairness champions say the efforts for reform are energizing opportunities to cultivate what she calls, Fat Pride. “Basically, we want to be treated with respect the same as everyone else.”
Who knows. Wann and her followers might start a movement toward true health insurance portability and help prove that individual health insurance is still affordable.