At one of my physicals, the nurse taking my vitals wanted to weigh me. I don't get weighed at the doctor's office and told her so. (If the doctor really wants to know my weight, I'll be willing to be weighed by him in private as long as the number doesn't go into the chart. That hasn't happened.) She said that some insurance companies want the number. I told her that that was one of the reasons I didn't want to get weighed.
I get my insurance through my job and at the moment there are no extra charges for perceived health issues. There are discounts to diet programs and gyms. I worry constantly that this will change. Other places already are looking to hit people while they're down.
For the past few years, companies have experimented with tying health insurance premiums to people's health. Here's how it works: Employees go through medical and biometric testing as part of their health insurance open-enrollment process. They are weighed, their height and blood pressure are measured, and their blood is drawn. Those with high scores on cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure -- or with chronic conditions like diabetes -- are told they will have to pay higher premiums unless they actively try to address any risky conditions.
One of the reasons I am very pro-universal health care is that when we have for-profit system of health care, people who tend to be genetically prone to certain diseases will be charged more or denied coverage. It's a slippery slope that this will condemn all fat people regardless of their health.
Meanwhile UCLA Professor Abigal Saguy points out in her op-ed about fat prejudice.
Despite the fact that body weight is largely determined by an individual’s biology, genetics and social environment, medical providers often blame patients for their weight and blame their weight for any health problems they have.
Health insurance isn't like car insurance. Driving a car isn't a right: you need to demonstrate your competency through your actions. Health insurance means that you don't go broke for an illness, acute or chronic. I don't get the logic of telling people they need to get healthy before being allowed access to health care.
The good news (for the US) is that in 2014 you cannot be denied health insurance based on health status. It also means there are affordable health care options. This is good news for fat people who often are either denied health insurance or given outrageously high priced options.
Health insurance companies offering coverage to individuals and small employers will only be allowed to vary premiums based on age, tobacco use, family size, and geography. Basing premiums on other factors will be illegal.