McCain’s health care plan: Throw fat people to the wolves

I want to preface this by saying that while we’re certainly not about to tell you how to vote here at SP, we’re not apologizing for our politics either. It’s no secret that the bloggers here are all left of center, and we believe that fighting fatphobia is intimately connected to feminism and other social justice issues. If you don’t agree with that, then perhaps this is not the blog for you — though I imagine you’ve figured that out already.

So, if you’ve been following US politics, you may have heard about the Health Affairs report that just came out detailing the impact of McCain’s health plan. If you were alarmed at his plan before, hold onto your hat. McCain wants to alter the (fundamentally flawed) current system of mostly employer-paid health insurance by creating incentive for people to move to market-based individual insurance. (What could ever go wrong with market-based economies, am I right?) The plan would tax your health care benefits and give you a tax credit to buy individual insurance instead. Ezra Klein sums up:

here’s the simple takeaway: McCain’s health care plan would increase taxes on employer based health insurance and price 20 million plus Americans out of the coverage they currently rely on. In return, he’d give them a tax credit that is not indexed to health costs, and will become worthless as the years pass. He’d push them into the individual market, where higher administrative costs and underwriting practices mean that if individuals try to purchase the exact policy offered by their employers, they will pay $2,000 more per year. In addition, the sick can be turned away, and the state regulations that ensure some minimum level of benefits will be dismantled. All this will cost us $1.3 trillion over 10 years, and set the rules so that more of the expense falls on the sick and less rests on the healthy.

In other words, his plan makes health care more expensive, less comprehensive, and less secure. It is health reform you can’t believe in, or rely upon.

Go read the rest of Ezra’s post — it’s a concise summary that will, if you are anything like me, make your jaw drop. Ezra points to this article about the difficulty some people, especially women, have had buying their own individual insurance (often being denied for the very reasons they need coverage in the first place). But what he doesn’t mention (and what the Self article mentions only in passing) is that obesity is often considered a preexisting medical condition (determined, of course, by BMI) and therefore fat people (and “fat” people) are frequently denied coverage when they attempt to purchase health insurance. Our own FJ was denied coverage simply for having a BMI over 30; have any of you had similar experiences?

Fat people already face tremendous discrimination from prejudiced health care providers — discrimination that can have tragic results. McCain’s plan will defang the regulations that prevent employers from discriminating against fat people (or people with disabilities, or people with such hideous conditions as “irregular periods”) when they provide coverage, leaving millions of fat Americans at the mercy of an industry that would like nothing more than to deny them basic medical care while bullying them into unnecessary surgery. If you are a US voter and you are or have ever been fat — hell, if you’ve ever even been sick — and aren’t a gazillionaire with your own private doctor, this will affect you. Spread the word.

70 thoughts on “McCain’s health care plan: Throw fat people to the wolves

  1. Love this blog! And this post (as do the others) make important issues relevant on a personal level. Most cool. Keep up the good work, and down with McCain/Palin!

  2. I briefly temped at a large health insurance company. Some people with “pre-existing” conditions (including “obesit,”) were allowed to purchase health care, but had to pay up to 250% of the “normal” premium rate. Regardless of whether or not they were otherwise healthy.

    That was ten years ago, when I was uninsured. I can only imagine (with horror) what it would be like today.

  3. Great googly moogly. I knew the Republicans had it out for the American people, but I had no idea it was that bad.

    This is beyond horrifying. And it’s a huge giveaway to the insurance companies, who a) do not need the damn money, and b) everybody hates anyway!!

    I had no idea someone could be that completely dead to the welfare of the average American.

  4. Also, yes, I was denied insurance for BMI>30. I was stunned. Thank God I’ll have insurance through work for 2009– but not if McCain has anything to say about it.

  5. i recently had to reapply for my healthcare coverage at work (the great coffee siren/mermaid). as i was answering the mandatory questions about my current self, health, and activity levels, i was nervous that i wouldn’t qualify for coverage, let alone for the “healthy employee” discount.

    i’m 5’8″ and weigh in the neighborhood of 330 pounds, so my bmi places me far into the morbidly obese category. i think my saving grace is that i’m active (although now that classes have started again the only thing getting any exercise is my ass), and my blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol are within normal range.

    so um. being denied coverage entirely under mccain’s plan is horrifying.

    if only us pesky wimmins didn’t need things like birth control or expensive hospital visits when we birthed all them babies! healthcare would be so cheap!

  6. Holy crap.
    *puts on tinfoil hat* You see, I feel like this is a conspiracy to keep people with families in the military. My spouse is reenlisting because we wouldn’t be able to afford health insurance (among other things, but this was the most important) if he got out. I have to finish my BA first.
    Maybe McCain hopes to avoid a draft by making shit so bad that people continue to sign up just for the benefits.

  7. i think my saving grace is that i’m active (although now that classes have started again the only thing getting any exercise is my ass), and my blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol are within normal range.

    Not if you were applying for private insurance! They don’t care. Though I was offered the opportunity to enroll in a high-risk pool for “uninsurable” people, at a truly staggering monthly premium.

    Thank God I’ll have insurance through work for 2009– but not if McCain has anything to say about it.

    Just to be fair: McCain’s plan wouldn’t make your employer stop insuring you, or even encourage them to do so. It makes it less cost-effective for YOU to have employer-sponsored health insurance, because you’re taxed on the benefits.

    It’s still a terrible plan, of course.

  8. Sheesh! These people need to take a basic Social Welfare policy class. The free market is never a good place to entrust the welfare of vulnerable populations. NEVER!

    And since getting sick makes anyone of us vulnerable…well, you see what I’m saying.

  9. Just to be fair: McCain’s plan wouldn’t make your employer stop insuring you, or even encourage them to do so. It makes it less cost-effective for YOU to have employer-sponsored health insurance, because you’re taxed on the benefits.

    Right. Another effect is that currently, in order to qualify for the tax exemption, your employer may not discriminate between “high-risk” and “low-risk” employees. But if there is no tax exemption, then the nondiscrimination requirement is moot.

  10. Like maggienmunkee, I’m 5’9 and weigh in the same category, and I was turned down three times for health insurance due to my weight. Since my job (a non-profit) doesn’t offer health coverage, my only option was to join a state high-risk pool and pay more, but I was accepted for the plan for lower-income residents (I’m in Maryland).

    Obama also doesn’t have a grasp on fat people, saying he would like obesity rates to go back to 1980 (well duh, we weren’t so hyped about BMI then), and I fear his plan will also throw fat people to the wolves. But considering McCain and especially Palin refuse to realize that birth control is a necessity in today’s society, and since I have a uterus, they will not got my vote in November.

  11. Just to be fair: McCain’s plan wouldn’t make your employer stop insuring you, or even encourage them to do so.

    Actually, it does, though. Ezra Klein linked to this post from healthaffairs.org, and it says this:

    However, to qualify for the tax subsidy, employers must abide by IRS nondiscrimination rules, which require firms to provide similar benefits to high- and low-wage employees. These rules have the effect of increasing the health insurance coverage of less skilled workers who work in firms that also employ highly skilled workers. The tax exclusion also strengthens risk pooling by creating an incentive for younger, healthier people to remain in employer-sponsored groups, where they effectively subsidize higher-risk workers.

    Even if I improbably lost 80 pounds and kept them off for good, I doubt I’d be eligible for private health insurance, because I have preexistings like depression (including an inpatient hospitalization), gallstones, an abnormal Pap requiring an outpatient curettage biopsy (benign) and PCOS. Or if I did get a plan, it would cost so much and exclude so much it wouldn’t be worth squat.

    I remember when I switched jobs and health insurance plans last year, I had to jump through flaming hoops just to get the new insurer to cover a Pap smear, because I had PCOS; they needed me to “prove” I had health insurance before that and wasn’t just going to start running to them for all the health care I needed but kept putting off.

    That’s what’s really screwed up; if you’ve ever had treatment for ANYTHING, no matter how piddling or easy to treat it was, they get to exclude it, and the longer you’ve gone without insurance, the worse your chance of ever getting it again. I wonder if McCain will ever get around to addressing that. (Stop, my sides are splitting and I don’t want getting them stitched up to be on my record.)

  12. Siiiiigh…

    I pretty much hate our country for a few months every two years…

    Election Time is the menstrual cycle of the USA… A disgusting bout of intense cramping as we make a necessary expulsion of unpleasant things and make way for new growth, for good or ill.

    I have to keep reminding myself that in all likelihood, no one president is going to kill the whole country in a term.

    Who else is going to do some serious drinking on election day? I don’t know whether I’ll be voting, but I do know I’ll be drinking. Heck, if I do vote, I’ll need the booze all the more.

  13. ((and that is coming from someone who, as my mother lovingly puts it, “could get drunk at communion,” because I drink so rarely that I really do not hold liquor all that well. HA.))

  14. Meowser, HA is primarily talking there about incentives for people to leave employer-sponsored coverage, not for employers to stop offering it. It’s true that employers would be allowed to discriminate in the coverage they offer, though, and that’s an important point in this context — but it gets spun as “employers will stop offering coverage to their employees because health benefits will be taxable.” It’s the employees paying those taxes.

  15. Privatised health care is an idea recently introduced to the Netherlands, and I still cannot comprehend whilst a society, that as a whole should be made of people, by people, FOR the people, lets its sick people suffer and die because they can’t afford the cure. For me the whole idea of privatised health care has just a bit less to do with politics and money, and more to do with my basic belief that a community should provide for those who are a part of it.

    Whenever I read about the state of health care in the US, I can’t help but wonder why the government is letting its people die. I don’t understand why. Why would anyone want to live in a world like that? Why would anyone tolerate being a part of a community, a society, that does not provide for you as a human being *in* that society? What is the *point* of being a part of society if not that?

  16. I have been flat out denied by many insurance carriers (and this was 15 years ago) and the one who would insure me at the time wanted to charge me $800 per month while they were advertising on TV better plans for $79 per month. A thin friend of mine applied for the cheaper insurance and it was granted immediately.

    I am essentially forced to stay in my job. I cannot leave one without having a job (with benefits) to go to because I cannot get health care without them. I am absolutely terrified of looming layoffs in tech, because it often takes six months to find another good job. In my field (software engineering) contractors make significantly more money than regular employees with benefits, but unless I marry some nice boy for his benefits that career option will never be open to me.

  17. Sony, assuming you get your contracts through an employment agency, you should be able to get health benefits during your contracts. Between contracts you will need to keep current with COBRA, which is hella expensive, but will keep you insured. If you have constant coverage a new company must cover even pre-existing conditions. It worked for us, but ate up most of the “extra” pay the contracting gave.

    At least that’s how it worked for us, when my hubby was doing tech contracting; and he has all sorts of expensive conditions.

  18. Discouraging people from having good health coverage is so f*(!)*(!)*$ counterproductive to basic public health. Take even 10% *more* of the kids in public schools off pediatricians’ regular caseloads, and see what happens to workplace productivity. Take even 10% *more* college students off health insurance, and see how many more die from untreated infections like meningitis. But I don’t want to “see what happens”–any sensible policymaker would already know that we live in each others’ air and water and touch all the same bannisters and elevator buttons and grocery carts, and that preventive care is always more affordable than the alternative.

  19. I can’t help but wonder why the government is letting its people die.

    Easy come, easy go. As long as the shareholders get paid and there’s an endless supply of cheap labor, why should the (Republican) government care?

  20. Folks like me – obese diabetic cancer survivors – would probably do better to take the tax hit and pray our employers keep our coverage.

    Very very scary, though.

  21. Obama also doesn’t have a grasp on fat people, saying he would like obesity rates to go back to 1980

    Does he mean that the BMI threshold of “obesity” (and “overweight”) should be revised back upward to what it was in 1980?

    Because that would reduce the “overweight” and “obese” population by 35 million OVERNIGHT.

  22. “I can’t help but wonder why the government is letting its people die. ”

    I cant either, Danielle. I would love to live somewhere where it is not like this, as the chance in changing this kind of cutthroat culture is practically nil in my lifetime, but i wouldnt be able to afford that, either.

  23. As a factoid, I applied for and received individual coverage in 2001 for myself and the man of the house. I weighed maybe 10lbs less than now & the man of the house’s BMI was also above 50.

    Yes, of course there’s a catch.

    We did not tell the insurance company our heights, weights, or BMI because we were NOT ASKED. Why not? The COBRA from my previous employer was ending. Because we already HAD coverage, the application just asked for our ages, whether we smoked, address, and that we attach the previous proof of insurance.

    Note I’m not saying it was cheap to pay for the COBRA or the individual coverage. Money has its own privileges.

  24. Danielle: Whenever I read about the state of health care in the US, I can’t help but wonder why the government is letting its people die. I don’t understand why. Why would anyone want to live in a world like that? Why would anyone tolerate being a part of a community, a society, that does not provide for you as a human being *in* that society? What is the *point* of being a part of society if not that?

    Because we in the USA are the last holdouts of social Darwinism. The sick are “weak” and “deserve what they get.” And fat people *especially* deserve it, because their “sickness” and “weakness” are readily visibly apparent.

    If I could move to Europe, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Too bad the Netherlands is considering private insurance. In a lot of ways, private insurance for medical care *got* us into this mess.

    McCain’s plan would cause massive suffering, and greatly add to the numbers of the uninsured. Unfortunately, Americans often don’t pay attention unless they’re hit upside the head with the proverbial 2×4, and this “plan” (plan to enrich the insurance companies is what it is) might just deliver a big enough smack to convince Congress to put together a *veto-proof* single payer national health care system.

  25. I love how McCain suddenly cares so much about fairness, as in it’s unfair that some people get health insurance tax-free.
    So, let’s just make it unfair, unaffordable, and unavailable for EVERYONE (except those who are basically wealthy), rather than making it fair, affordable and available for everyone.

    I have so much more to say about this, but t

  26. John McCain has had free health care his entire life, from the moment he was born in a military hospital until now. He has never had to find coverage or worry about coverage or even think about going to a doctor or paying for a prescription. Yes, he was a P.O.W. for five years but he was technically still insured the whole time and came back to free medical care. What the hell does he know?

  27. God damn it.

    I did NOT need to read this today. I’m having my increasingly regular panic about my weight (please click through to my blog if you want to read the gory details), and I had the misfortune to watch a video of Sarah Palin’s interview with Charles Gibson this morning. What a hateful, angry person! I don’t think I’d want her as vice president even if she was a liberal.

    I’m pissed off that polling numbers for McCain are improving after appointing this horrid woman, because it emphasizes to me, once again, how ‘different’ I am from the mainstream in my own country. Normally, I don’t care, and actually enjoy it, but today, I’m just feeling under the thumb of The Man. The world is stupid and I hate it.

  28. Holy cow.
    Aside from the moral issue here, this sort of thing makes no sense for a *capitalist* society; it reduces any given worker’s willingness to take risk, reduces class churn, and traps people in jobs.
    I’m Canadian and have all those pinko, society framework values – but seriously, where the American Right is going just doesn’t seem to make any sense to me on their own professed philosophies.

  29. Because we in the USA are the last holdouts of social Darwinism. The sick are “weak” and “deserve what they get.” And fat people *especially* deserve it, because their “sickness” and “weakness” are readily visibly apparent.

    If I could move to Europe, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Too bad the Netherlands is considering private insurance. In a lot of ways, private insurance for medical care *got* us into this mess.

    I’m sorry to report that I experienced some of the worst fat-bashing in my life when I lived in Europe. The difference is, over there the health care system is not a for-profit enterprise, so the fat-bashing is privatized. Over here, it’s institutionalized.

  30. AND ANOTHER THING…

    (Sorry, I’m just on a rant tonight. It will be over soon.)

    If I’m not getting a physical exam for my health insurance, I LIE. That’s right. I lie about my weight. Without that number, I look just like a thin person ‘on paper’ — normal everything. I’ve even faced an insurance person across a desk and told them I weigh 145 pounds. They don’t have a scale in their office, let them tell me I weigh more.

    Fuckers.

  31. SugarLeigh, election party at my place. I was flipping through some women’s mag at work earlier, and found cocktail recipes for “The Red Stater” and “The Blue Stater.” They both sound good, so I believe I will be a bipartisan drinker this November. (Right after I go throw my vote away, because I am SO not in a swing state, this one is always red, y’all.)

    Our insurance system in this country is a steaming pile of shit. No doubt about it. I just don’t see how making it even more expensive, and providing what really amounts to a pittance of a tax break is going to help. It’s not like the insurance companies are going to have a lot of incentive to drop prices. Employer sponsored is really cheaper because of group discounts, which would be, you know, gone under this plan.

  32. I can’t quote, but I’m with Danielle on this one.
    I believe we Europeans are just unable to understand (technically and most definitely emotionally) the US healthcare system.
    Sorry, my further thoughts are incoherent with socialist rage, but I’m crossing my fingers over here…

  33. As someone with an immune system deficiency (requiring quite costly medication), believe you me, I would not qualify for coverage under any individual insurance policy. I would be laughed out of the door. But because I work, I was able to get covered under my company’s plan. Company plans at least get some preferential treatment. A tax credit is not going to do people like me squat. Any tax credit I would receive may pay for 1, yes, one immune system treatment. I require 1 treatment every 3 weeks, all year long at $1,100 per pop. Without it, I’m in the hospital. A plan such as this would be detrimental for me.

  34. Does he mean that the BMI threshold of “obesity” (and “overweight”) should be revised back upward to what it was in 1980?

    Because that would reduce the “overweight” and “obese” population by 35 million OVERNIGHT.

    You have a point Jupiter, but I also think he meant that “back then, there were no people weighing over 200 lbs” arguement that a lot of trolls like to throw around on the blogs.

    I think our politcians should be reminded that fat people are not America’s biggest national threat, pardon the pun.

  35. This whole thing freaking sucks!

    I can’t get accepted on to private health insurance and either can my 3 year old daughter who has asthma and ADHD.

    I have an eating disorder, depression, ADHD and a history of skin cancer

    That was a fun argument with my insurance company “Full body checks are not a pre-existing condition. It’s preventative care!” I did win out in the end but still jesus

  36. I thought you all might be pleased to know that McCain supporter in the mod queue is very skeptical of this post. McCain didn’t make you eat that extra serving all these years, your on obsesity is your fault and you alone are responsible for solving it. QED!

  37. McCain didn’t make you eat that extra serving all these years, your on obsesity is your fault and you alone are responsible for solving it.

    Well, duh, it’s obviously your fault that you’re on obesity. Get off it! It wants to get up!

  38. I’m laughing on the inside at the McCain supporter. Yeah, dude? You think if I lost some weight, all of a sudden my ovaries and pancreas would just miraculously start functioning properly again?

    Oh, right, it would also take away all my family history, too, right? LIke my (skinny) mom’s heart attack, and my grandmother’s mental illness? That must be it.

    There are a lot of reasons for an insurance company to deny you coverage. Weight is one, yes, but I promise, if they’re not forced to cover you through an employer plan, they’re going to start digging up reasons. Oh, your third cousin has high cholesterol? Nope, uninsurable. Good luck!

  39. Because we in the USA are the last holdouts of social Darwinism. The sick are “weak” and “deserve what they get.” And fat people *especially* deserve it, because their “sickness” and “weakness” are readily visibly apparent.

    It’s not so much the *sick* are weak and deserve what they get- if they’re rich, they get all the help they need. However, if you’re sick AND poor, that’s another story.

    I’m not quite sure why the wealthy right wingers choose to trample on the middle classes so much- they wouldn’t exist without us and they need us. And they REALLY need us to be healthy.

  40. If I’m spending all my money on health care because insurance says I’m uninsurable due to migraines, and the government says I’m not high risk, to get my own insurance, then I won’t have any money to be a consumer and boost the economy.

    Why doesn’t someone appoint a commission to investigate why insurance companies are charging us so much and why they have so much overhead and where it’s going? It’s certainly not greedy doctors (maybe ones that perform cosmetic procedures are doing well, but overall, it’s not like they’re making billions.) Some second-world countries have a better handle on health insurance than we do. It’s ridiculous.

  41. The thing that always amazed me about the BMI to judge obesity is it’s not anywhere near exact. If you look, for example, at the wikipedia article ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_mass_index ) it states that:

    “Because the BMI is dependent only upon weight and height, it makes simplistic assumptions about distribution of muscle and bone mass, and thus may overestimate adiposity on those with more lean body mass (e.g. athletes) while underestimating adiposity on those with less lean body mass (e.g. the elderly). For example Lance Armstrong was classified as “overweight” when he competed in the 1993 Tour de France.”

    I myself am classified as a Level 2 Obese Woman, I wear a size 16 Jeans when I shop in Juniors mainly because the women in my family are very busty women. Because of my personal body makeup there is no way I will ever be a “normal” person on the BMI scale. Going to this plan would kill any chance I would have at getting insurance if my employer decided to not cover me anymore.

  42. I have a transplanted kidney and am on several drugs, one of which can cost upwards of $1000 for a three month’s supply. If my kidney fails, I have to go on dialysis, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars in the end. If I can’t do that, I die.

    So yeah, there is no way I will ever be accepted for an individual insurance plan. Like someone mentioned above, I’m just gonna have to accept the extra cost, and hope like crazy that I never lose my job.

    Even though, working for the county government, I have some of the most affordable coverage around, they have been steadily increasing it over the years, and I’ve seen ominous signs of it slowly creeping towards the whole “charge people based on their habits and health” trend, which I’m not looking forward to. They already have some sort of deal with Weight Watchers which chagrins me to no end (I tear down the posters and throw them away as soon as they go up. It’s my small, but I feel necessary, rebellion against The Man). But once again, even if they do start charging us based on habits and health, what can I do? I have no choice.

    I try to look on the bright side and realize that I still have it better than many others do. Still, it is frustrating to know that I will have very little choice if I ever decide I want to change employers or go into a different field…all because I need to worry about the risk of losing all my material possessions, and possibly DYING, if my health insurance is not rock solid.

    What is one to do? ::shrugs shoulders helplessly::

  43. You know what cracks me up? I had what could be considered excellent health insurance at my last job, and I started seeing this doctor who was an obesity specialist who was going to put me on phentermine (and this was very pre-FA for me). He sent me for bloodwork to check for liver issues and the like because I was also on Depakote, and then my insurance company wouldn’t pay for it because my diagnosis was “obesity”. Get it? See, I probably couldn’t get most private insurances right now because I’m obese, but then when I already have insurance and try to get “treated”, they won’t cover that, either.

  44. I am a Canadian, and I’m scared. We also are having a federal election in October, before the US, and our population seems to be swerving to the right, if you listen to the polls that say the Conservatives are sure of a majority.

    We have universal healthcare here, and though family doctors can be hard to find, for some people, most have worry-free access to healthcare.

    The conservatives would like to change all that and move to an American system of privatized health care.

    Boo-hiss! I would not be able to afford private health insurance, being a self-employed writer. What is wrong with people? Isn’t decent health care something the government should provide as a matter of course, along with an education and a safety net for the vulnerable.

  45. The thing that kills me about the troll logic is the idea that if you had any hand at all in your health status, then you deserve to die. If obesity is such a terrible medical condition, then wouldn’t you want to “help” people with it rather than deny them care? I assume the troll also would refuse health care to smokers, alcoholics, stuntmen, etc. Hell, did you travel to a different country and come back with an intestinal parasite? Suck it up! That’s what you get for leaving the US of A!

  46. At my last job, we had to apply for individual disability coverage since it was a very small company.

    My boss had to tell me that I only qualified for a 5-year policy (rather than the normal ‘to age 65′) because of my weight and height. Group coverage is essential.

  47. Well, I’m glad I got my self-paid BCBS Insurance back in 1999, before I was a member of Teh Fattie Club. Phew! But if they ever start looking at the results of my physicals, I’m toast. (Mmmm…buttered, I hope!)

  48. I’m sorry to report that I experienced some of the worst fat-bashing in my life when I lived in Europe. The difference is, over there the health care system is not a for-profit enterprise, so the fat-bashing is privatized. Over here, it’s institutionalized.

    More or less true in the UK, unfortunately. We have a National Health Service still…allegedly…but it’s getting so pressed for cash that there’s constant talk of ‘rationing’, and the political parties are scrambling over each other to who can promise the most official nastiness to fat people ‘for their own good’ at the next election.

    But, I think we’re heading for private healthcare here anyway. The NHS has dealt with most of my healthcare without a murmur, and I’ve been lucky in never having been refused travel or life insurance on BMI (although due to us both having a history of depression, neither hubby nor I are covered on our life insurance for any, you know, consequences arising, although I always assumed you weren’t covered for that anyway). Having said that, I can imagine that if private health insurance becomes the norm, things will get a lot tougher.

    (And I want to move to the US! Go figure.)

  49. (((Hera))) – I hope things get better for you.

    I’m so afraid we’re screwed. I just got health insurance at the first of the year (through my job) and I need it desperately. I have a lot of medical problems and even with prescription insurance I pay a lot for meds. There’s no way I can afford to pay full price for them. At least most of my meds aren’t necessary to my going on living (one of them is and also if I can’t get anti-depressants I might not be able to keep from killing myself – when I’m off them it’s a constant litany), but I’d sure be miserable and I’m not sure I could keep on working full-time. I truly don’t understand why anyone that isn’t extremely wealthy would vote for McCain. Let’s hope we don’t end up with him in office.

  50. I was turned down for the first time for a paltry $40,000 term life insurance policy when my husband’s employer switched life insurance companies. As a stay at home mom who cares for my school age child, the home, the errands, the cleaning, the cooking, the shopping, etc., we wanted the assurance of a life policy that would pay for funeral expenses and provide for a babysitter and cleaning services for a short time if I were to meet an untimely death. A term policy seemed the simple answer to prevent dipping into our savings and causing a drop in income. In fact, it was the RESPONSIBLE thing to do, or so I thought. Even with none of the so called major health problems associated with OMG!! TEH OBESITY!!! (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart problems,etc.) I was strictly turned down because of my BMI-It stated so in the rejection letter. Additionally, the previous 5 years, at basically the same weight, I had not been turned down for coverage by a different insurance company for the same amount of coverage.
    That being said, do I want my vote in November to go to a man who wishes to derail the already shaky health care system in this country? Hell 2 the no! This is more of the same rhetoric we have been hearing for the past 8 years from a president so out of touch with real Americans that I am not surprised that his “twin” thinks along similar lines. It’s the same Reaganistic mindset that preached “personal responsibility” for every American and started this whole “hate people for not being exactly like you” stance America now has. The “rugged individualism” speak that they spew in mini sound bytes clearly shows their intention of turning the masses on themselves. No one ever changed the world completely alone. Those who did had supporters, financial backers, cheerleaders, etc. behind them every step of the way. It is a fallacy to believe that individuals alone can bring about grand changes in history, the mindset of the masses, or a better life on a grand scale. “Rugged individualism” is a testament to the human spirit…period. Not the method in which you make great changes for everyone. Even McCain himself could not have gotten away from his captors if not for the negotiations of the government and groups who were concerned for his and the other soldier’s welfare.
    Sorry to get off track there. The point of what I’m saying is that if McCain gets his way regarding health care reform, the US will no longer be able to afford to fund advances in medicine. THink about it, if you have to purchase your own health care policy, through a “tax break”, do you really think that most Americans won’t just cross their fingers and hope no one gets sick in their family? Or will they use the additional income they receive in their tax returns to pay for the massive credit card debt they have, or the increasing gas bills they have, or just to make life better for themselves for a little while? It will be another catastrophe along the same lines as our current mortgage crisis and now retirement savings crisis. People will choose what benefits them now. Especially those living from paycheck to paycheck, as most Americans are.

  51. One more point….if people are not spending as much on health care as they are currently through their plans, do you think there will be as much research being done by the medical profession? Basic supply and demand here…..spend less for health care-hospitals hire fewer nurses and doctors-pharmaceautical companies sell fewer medicines, thus reducing their manufacturing and reseach-and so on and so one. If it’s not profitable for their bottom line,. they won’t do it and medical advances decline. Not tomorrow, not a year from now..but eventually..

  52. Oh LORD.

    I just moved onto my employer’s health care plan, and I’m already painfully aware of how much it sucks and how much it’s going to cost me. It’s singlehandedly going to keep me poor for at least the next five years – and that’s only if I don’t lose my job for some unforeseen reason.

    AND I’ve just been informed I’ve probably got rheumatoid arthritis as well as fibromyalgia and migraines and all the other *@(&.

    I’m going to bed early.

  53. The conservatives would like to change all that and move to an American system of privatized health care.

    Will never happen, even if the conservatives were to sweep all the seats. It would be political suicide and Harper is not that stupid.

  54. Emerald, as a Leeds-based Brit (who as a side note also made the mistake of rendering himself effectively uninsurable by seeking treatment for depression a few years back) I’m not sure whether I’m more perturbed by the creeping privatisation of the NHS, or the seemingly insatiable desire by politicians to overstate the threats to the service and abuse its existence by citing it as justification for their intrusive, illiberal politics of lifestyle regulation.

    Certainly the tone of the fat-phobic rhetoric being thrown around by representatives of all three major parties has become extremely ugly in recent weeks, and it all stems from the false assumption that fat people = unhealthy = higher costs for all.

    The US system has many major flaws (access being one, the huge profits creamed off by insurers who don’t actually do anything besides act as gatekeepers another), but I do think too many American progressives fall into the trap of believing that universal healthcare is some type of panacea.

    From a purely FA perspective, I can’t see how fat Americans will benefit if, instead of being accused of raising insurance premiums for a relative few they were instead (as in the UK) to be charged with increasing the compulsory tax contributions of the entire population.

    And I too am looking to eventually relocate to be with my fiancee in the US (Massachusetts, to be specific) and so am trying to appreciate both sides of the debate.

    (BTW, long-time lurker and BFB poster nervously de-cloaking here – so hi everyone!)

  55. Well, according to BMI and the myriad other faulty “health indicators” (eg: ways to decide someone’s fat and punish them physically and emotionally and scar them for the rest of their lives – not that I know anything about that) we have in the US healthcare system, McCain would be considered obese, Palin probably too.

  56. Eesh. x_x I’m so glad I live in a country where public health cover is the norm. My (obese) American cousins are seriously thinking about moving to Canada if McCain gets in, because they won’t be able to get any kind of health insurance.

    (On a side note, I’m slightly astounded by the incredible length of American election campaigns. xD Australia’s had a new PM since the start of this year, and our election campaigns started a good couple of months after yours did.)

  57. Re: coverage for obesity “treatment”, The Rotund linked to this fabulous paper from UCLA – http://mann.bol.ucla.edu/files/Diets_don%27t_work.pdf

    Titled “Medicare’s Search for Effective Obesity Treatments: Diets Are Not the Answer”, it reviewed 31 studies and determines that diets only result in temporary weight loss, followed by regain. In addition, a significant subset of dieters regain more than they lost, resulting in a net gain. Therfore the paper recommends that Medicare not cover weight loss diet and/or exercise programs because they do not work.

    And yes, Weight Watchers is one of the treatments included :)

  58. I was declined for a high deductible plan (!) for my “build (height/weight)” (direct quote from my letter). With the plan I did purchase, I pay an additional 50% for undisclosed reasons (the possible outcomes were the quoted premium, 25% increase, 50% increase or rejection).

  59. I was denied coverage for having a BMI in the “Overweight” range. I believe it was 29.8 at the time – which I realize is very close to 30, but I was actually in a losing trend at that point, which I couldn’t explain to the company that just rubber-stamped me denied.

  60. richie79, you’re right if you think of FA as only being the perception of fat people.

    But universal health care would help most fat people by getting us more money and getting more of us medical care. About 1/3 of Americans don’t have health insurance, which for most of them means no medical care except the emergency room – and since poorer people are more likely to be fat here, that’s definitely a FA issue in the larger sense of “being good to fat people.”

  61. Well, the advantage of that plan is that it might make the whole health insurance system collapse.

    I’m imagining pitchforks and torches.

    I love how McCain suddenly cares so much about fairness, as in it’s unfair that some people get health insurance tax-free.

    Yeah, well, he could offer a tax break to people who have private insurance. But he’s a Republican, so of course he’d rather just burn the whole thing to the ground.

    I can’t see how fat Americans will benefit if, instead of being accused of raising insurance premiums for a relative few they were instead (as in the UK) to be charged with increasing the compulsory tax contributions of the entire population.

    Frankly, that’s already happening here. People either complain about having to pay higher health insurance premiums (as if that’s the fault of the fatties, and not medical advancements + greedy insurance companies) and having to pay higher taxes (for Medicare, Medicaid, and emergency care for the poor and indigent).

  62. What gets to me is that even though my current employer offers health insurance with a decent-enough health care company here in Oregon, our company’s policy premium is really really high. I’m guessing this is in part a reflection on our staff–many of whom are considered obese/mobidly obese by BMI standards. I have to say I really enjoy working in a place where heavier women are welcomed and its sad that the more of us that fall into that category, the higher our premiums go despite the fact that our company offers free yoga classes on-site and regularly pays for us to join other opportunities to get out and get active. Its truly depressing that my state’s “high risk” insurance pool would actually be cheaper if I qualified by not having coverage through my employer.

  63. We cannot afford to put me on my husbands health insurance. So, I have been calling around for quotes. I am 5’3″ and weigh 210. I have been flat out denied at every turn. What are people like myself supposed to do? How do we get coverage? I am floored that I could not obtain independant health insurance. Any suggestions?

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