No Country For Rich, Fat Men

Tyler Durden's picture

Given the increasing weight of taxation on the middle- and upper-incomes in this country and the first step towards savings 'wealth' taxation, it is perhaps no surprise that the nation's employers have decided enough is enough with another implicit tax - healthcare. As the WSJ reports, cost-conscious companies (such as spare tire manufacturer Michelin North America) are passing on the additional costs of healthcare to their obese workers. Are you a man with a waist measuring 40 inches or more? Have high blood pressure? Starting next year, your unhealthiness will cost you.

Employees who hit baseline requirements in three or more categories (blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, and waist size) will receive up to $1,000 to reduce their annual deductibles. Those who don't qualify must sign up for a health-coaching program in order to earn a smaller credit.

But, six in 10 employers say they plan to impose penalties in the next few years on employees who don't take action to improve their health, according to a recent study, and current law permits companies to use health-related rewards or penalties as long as the amount doesn't exceed 20% of the cost of the employee's health coverage. Increasingly companies have flipped from the incentive scheme (to be healthy) to a penalty or 'fat tax'.

Typically 20% of a company's workforce drives 80% of health-care costs, and with companies unable to grow top-lines, the search for ever more cost-cutting means the balance of carrot and stick seems to be tilting increasingly to the stick.

So the people got their pro-equality Obamacare but if you are an 80/20 risk factor - you will be less equal than others.

Via WSJ,

Are you a man with a waist measuring 40 inches or more? If you want to work at Michelin North America Inc., that spare tire could cost you.


Employees at the tire maker who have high blood pressure or certain size waistlines may have to pay as much as $1,000 more for health-care coverage starting next year.


As they fight rising health-care costs and poor results from voluntary wellness programs, companies across America are penalizing workers for a range of conditions, including high blood pressure and thick waistlines. They are also demanding that employees share personal-health information, such as body-mass index, weight and blood-sugar level, or face higher premiums or deductibles.


Corporate leaders say they can't lower health-care costs without changing workers' habits, and they cite the findings of behavioral economists showing that people respond more effectively to potential losses, such as penalties, than expected gains, such as rewards. With corporate spending on health care expected to reach an average of $12,136 per employee this year, according to a study by the consulting firm Towers Watson, penalties may soon be the new norm.




Employee-rights advocates say the penalties are akin to "legal discrimination." While companies are calling them wellness incentives, the penalties are essentially salary cuts by a different name, says Lew Maltby, president of Princeton, N.J.-based National Workrights Institute, a nonprofit advocacy group for employee rights in the workplace. "No one ever calls a bad thing what it really is," he says. "It means millions of people are getting their pay cut for no legitimate reason."


Companies may say they have tried softer approaches, but many haven't exhausted their options, ...




Six in 10 employers say they plan to impose penalties in the next few years on employees who don't take action to improve their health, according to a recent study of 800 mid- to large-size firms by human-resources consultancy Aon Hewitt. A separate study by the National Business Group on Health and Towers Watson found that the share of employers who plan to impose penalties is likely to double to 36% in 2014.


Current law permits companies to use health-related rewards or penalties as long as the amount doesn't exceed 20% of the cost of the employee's health coverage. ...




"It opens a Pandora's box," says a full-time CVS employee who works at a distribution center in Florida. "It's none of their business." ...




Honeywell International Inc. HON recently introduced a $1,000 penalty—deducted from health-savings accounts—for workers who elect to get certain procedures such as knee and hip replacement and back surgery without seeking more input. The company had offered $500 for participating in a program that provides access to data and additional opinions for workers considering surgery, but less than 20% of the staff joined up. Since it flipped the incentive to a penalty, the company says, enrollment has been above 90%.




Typically, 20% of a company's workforce drives 80% of health-care costs, according to Cigna's Mr. Smith, and roughly 70% of health-care costs are related to chronic conditions brought on by lifestyle choices, such as overeating or sedentary behavior. But when employers target those conditions, employees themselves may feel targeted, especially when it comes to their weight. While companies can't say it outright, many of their measures—such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure—are proxies for obesity.


A 2011 Gallup survey estimated obese or overweight full-time U.S. workers miss an additional 450 million days of work each year, compared with healthy workers, resulting in more than $153 billion in lost productivity.



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knukles's picture

Interesting treading of a very fine line between free market of paying your one's own freight and discrimination.

mikla's picture


Agreed:  It's actually a genius tool to:

  1. Create more victim factions.
  2. Have factions blame each other for everything.

It's a distraction.

lewy14's picture

The more they blame each other, the less they blame the rulers.

Fat is the new ghey.

toys for tits's picture

The real pink elephant in the room has only been addressed peripherally.  

How much privacy will we have in a healthcare that is run by the government?

First, they came for the fatties, but I said nothing ....

TuesdayBen's picture

Guy has Dunlap's Disease - his belly done lapped over his belt....

walküre's picture

He is a victim. The group of fatties should get funded as special interest group and demand all kinds of special privileges.

Two seats on an aircraft is just for starters. Extra wide car seats and extra wide isles in the grocery stores is next. Fatty parking right next to the cash register needs to happen as well.

It's not a choice. God made them that way.

lewy14's picture

Actually, given new understanding of the effects of genetics - and bacterial gut infections - on obesity, then treating teh fat as a congenital disability or an infectious disease isn't entirely inappropriate.

[Cure for bad gut bacteria is to ingest dilute fecal matter of healthy people. No, I'm not kidding. This one is a "google it for yourself" topic, folks.]

flacon's picture

Employment ought to have nothing to do with healthcare, in the same way that it has nothing to do with home-'owners' insurance, fire insurance or car insurance. I feel the same way about marriage and government. These things should never be connected

boogerbently's picture

If the "employer" needs to provide "healthcare" then they're definitely related.

We all pay higher premiums to subsidize others irresponsible behavior.

If you CHOOSE to be fat or smoke, you need to pay more. It's like getting an "option" on a car, it costs more.

You don't want to pay less, smoke less.

GeezerGeek's picture

Would you extend that to individuals who engage in unhealthy activities? Skydiving? Skateboarding? Non-marital sex? IV drug use? There have been big debates about motorcyclists being required to wear helmets, which is a similar situation.  

Not only should healthcare insurance be divorced from employment, it should be outlawed except for catastrophic care. What we have now is more of a combination of catastrophy insurance and prepaid medical care. I'd prefer to see the latter abandoned to a pay-as-you-go system. Can't pay? Ask a friend. Have no friends? Probably because you're a jerk and deserve to be sick. 

Well, maybe not that last part, but we do need to return toward more individual responsibility. Since that's not going to happen as long as we have elections (I'm not saying they're not fixed or make any difference) to provide the illusion of 'democracy', we're screwed.

markmotive's picture


I saw that guy on a scooter the other day.

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Not is guy, is Boris' sister!

But, just as same, maybe you see on scooter because walk is not option.

johnQpublic's picture

what about government employees?

will they still have anything goes golden chariot healthcare?

Chris Christie, do you have any comments?

he's so fat it should be a different font when i type his name

chris christie

boogerbently's picture

I hear that scooter is still in there, somewhere.

Disenchanted's picture

Isn't ghey sex riskier and therefore an "unhealthy activity?"

Looks like we'll need a rump ranger penalty/tax. /s

johnQpublic's picture

i'm told it keeps one pretty regular

sm0k4's picture

You list activities, not lifestyles. Something tells me you are a fatty playing the victim. Over eating and smoking are lifestyle choices. Your comparison sucks my left testicle.

max2205's picture

Thats a big fat penis or is it?

boogerbently's picture

Your argument embodies the liberal "all or nothing" mindset.

What about the case of rape.

If some people can't be trusted with guns, then it's OK to take EVERYONES guns??

Embrace the "shades of gray".

Which behavior has a more negative affect on insurance premiums/tax dollars, smoking or skateboarding ?

boogerbently's picture

Your argument embodies the liberal "all or nothing" mindset.

What about the case of rape.

If some people can't be trusted with guns, then it's OK to take EVERYONES guns??

Embrace the "shades of gray".

Which behavior has a more negative affect on insurance premiums/tax dollars, smoking or skateboarding ?

smlbizman's picture

booger with that kinda comment...this is not the right sight for you...

boogerbently's picture

How would you define the "ideal" visitor/participant of this site?

I don't like paying "extra" money to pay for fat/smokers, just like I don't like paying extra money so the govt can give it to people who WON'T work. You probably don't see the correlation.

You sound like another liberal. Everyone has a right to free speech, as long as they agree with you.

Frozen IcQb's picture

Where are the gratuitous sexy zero hedge girls gone?

Frankie Carbone's picture

You are precisely the kind of person who Hedgers have been ranting about for years. Complete traitor to liberty you are, my little collectivist.


boogerbently's picture

I believe "hedgers" disagree with being made to pay for others mistakes/indiscretions.

Like GeezerGeek said " we do need to return toward more individual responsibility."

Which would include things like being PERSONALLY (NOT collectively) responsible for smoking and overeating.

That would mean THEM paying extra for smoking, not US paying extra for their habits.

smlbizman's picture

flacon they do thru your credit report health.......and my carefirst policy states that if i am not wearing my seatbelt they will not pay for needs....the employers already entered your life by piss testing you for matter when you they fructose everything,  gmos, etc. fucking etc......are those fat cocksuckers in congress going to be held to i dont think it was right to put chris christys pic on this article to make a point.....

Rustysilver's picture


Car insurance has been connected to user/buyer since forever.  This is your risk profile.

The same way your fire insurance.  How close are you to a hydrant?

knukles's picture

The New ObamaDontCare slogan

"Eat shit, bro"

akak's picture

Actually, it will be:

"It's time to eat your shit."


PS: LOL at "Obama(don't)Care".  Sounds familiar, somehow.

GeezerGeek's picture

More like "Eat shit and die." Saves on Medicaid/Medicare expenses.

francis_sawyer's picture

OMG Becky ~ Look at her butt... It is so big...She looks like one of those rap guys girlfriends... They only talk her to her because she looks like a total prostitute, OKAY... I mean, her BUTT, it's so 'ROUND', it's just OUT THERE'... I mean 'GROSS'... She's so...


OH WAIT!... Was this the FLOTUS thread, or the foto caption thread?...


GeezerGeek's picture

There's a word for that: steatopygous. I was introduced to this word by William Buckley several decades ago and can't forget it no matter how hard I try.

Try searching on "steatopygia pictures" if you want to be amazed (or disgusted, or...)

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

You at correct. It was originally called fecal banking but they changed it to microbiotia banking. We are setting one up at our lab. I lobbied hard to keep the name fecal banking but no one at my work reads ZH and so I was voted down for the more regal sounding name. It is used primarily to treat deadly C diff infections with a greater than 85% cure rate. Kind of like fighting bacteria with bacteria. Eating lots of fermented veggies, taking probiotics and avoiding antibiotics makes one less likely to have that procedure.


lewy14's picture

@MM, thanks for the info!

What kind of fermented veggies work best?

[Slogan for your lab: Eat shit and... live!

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Lewy14, the best is kimchi and sauerkraut but make sure it's RAW. Any cooking destroys the bacteria you're trying to populate your colon. I also take inner- eco probiotic kefir. Don't over do at the start or you'll get the trots!

Well it great to see you guys appreciated the Fecal Bank. 30 people at our fecal bank meeting were staring at me laughing hysterically about the name. I think they thought I had a grade school sense of humor. I was going to put up a sign and send you all a link. Microbiotia lab just didn't have the same vibe. But I do love the EAT SHIT and LIVE line. I must graffiti that on the sign when no one is looking. Otherwise its another month of sensitivity training for me!


lewy14's picture

@MM, OK, will try the raw sauerkraut. Thanks! And good luck with you "branding"... ;)

Frankie Carbone's picture

Speaking of which, I have about a foot of unholy fecal rope to deposit in the bank branch off the master bedroom. BRB..

akak's picture

Actually, after reading innumerable news stories over the past five years, and particularly given the Cyprus debacle, I think "fecal banking" is by far the more appropriate label, because most of those currently holding bank accounts are going to get shit out of them.

GeezerGeek's picture

Fecal banking, brought to you by fecal banksters.

Zero Debt's picture

You're just going to leave rectal banking behind you like that?

Mr.Bigfoot's picture

Ingestion of dilute feces is to recolonize the colon after a life threatening clostridium difficile Colitis. Acually the feces is endoscopically placed in the upper GI tract, not eaten. It has nothing to do with obesity. Obesity in America is due to excess calories and lack of exercise. Plain and simple.

the tower's picture

Actually, it does have something to do with obesity:

Excess calories and lack of exercise, sure, and genetics. But read the above and you'll see a 4th reason: overuse of antibiotics makes you fat, ingestion of the proper bacteria (recolonize) can make you slim again, unless you keep stuffing your fat gob of course.

thewhitelion's picture

Makes a nice smothie, I'm sure.

Rogue Trooper's picture

When they came for the 'smokers' I said nothing, in fact I cheered them on with righteous fervor, now they have come for me.

Some anonymous fucker fat...

Mind you, when the EBT cards stop working they will slow the free shit army down.  Give me time to change mag's and high tail it outta there.

Opportunity bitchez.

joak's picture

I think it's a bit more complex. I'm sure some people are more prone to obesity than others, but if it's because of genetics, how do you explain the surge of obesity all around the world those last years ? If people would eat healthy, those figures would drop dramatically.

Urban Redneck's picture

I don't know-- a union fatty with $50k plan would be facing a $10K out of pocket expense on that cadillac plan if his employer went that way...