How Obamacare Fuels The Obesity Epidemic

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Duane Norman via Free Market Shooter blog,

Recently, the CDC announced that America has made a new high; not in the stock market, but in obesity rates:

A troubling new report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that almost 40 percent of American adults and nearly 20 percent of adolescents are obese — the highest rates ever recorded for the U.S.

Many contributing factors have been blamed for causing and/or fueling the obesity epidemic, including, but not limited to: overeating, poor diet, physical inactivity, prescription medications, all the crap that is on grocery store shelves, toxic chemicals, diseases, and just plain old genetics.  But while Obamacare certainly can’t be blamed for America’s ever-increasing obesity, the law has added fuel to the fire, and in a manner that has gone unnoticed by most Americans.

First, it is important to understand exactly what part of Obamacare has changed the health insurance equation; the requirement that individuals cannot be screened for pre-existing conditions or denied coverage on that basis.  While it sounds like a “fair” and equitable idea to force insurers to cover the riskiest patients who need coverage the most, its method of implementation has certainly left “healthy” individuals with far higher premiums relative to their unhealthy counterparts.

I signed up for an individual health insurance plan in 2011, after Obamacare was enacted, but prior to its implementation.  The plan complied with all ACA requirements, but insurers could still “screen” me using their existing process.  I was asked a slew of questions; my age, gender, health history, and questions about my personal habits, including, but not limited to; gender, smoking status, alcohol consumption, exercise habits, risky hobbies (i.e. skydiving), and basically any other question you could imagine an insurer would use to quantify what my premiums should be.

After the ACA, the only questions an insurer can ask about a prospective patient are: age and smoking status.  I was previously under the impression that under the ACA, insurers could charge higher premiums to women, as they use health services far more frequently than men, but “gender rating” is actually illegal under the ACA.  

What does all of this mean?  It means that all of those questions that insurers used to ask to quantify risk are now off limits:

Under Obamacare, many factors that influence healthcare expenditures are excluded from premiums. For example, premiums make no distinction for obesity, likelihood of having a baby, alcoholism or pre-existing conditions.

Before Obamacare, an insurer would have charged a much lower premium to the healthy guy, and a much higher one to the obese guy (if it chose to cover him at all).  Without being able to assess the risk of individual customers, the healthy customer ends up paying more, while the obese customer ends up paying less.

Under Obamacare, a 30-year-old male, with a BMI of 18, who works out 5-6 days a week, eats as healthy as possible, and has absolutely no health problems whatsoever, ends up paying the same amount in premiums as a 30-year-old male who is 600lbs, eats two pizzas and drinks two 2-liter sodas daily, and has been previously told by his doctor that he needs to lose weight, or be at risk for heart disease and diabetes.  

Ladies and gentlemen… this is how “socialized medicine” works in practice.

And, what makes this problem even worse?  Skyrocketing obesity rates:

Obesity Rates Timelapse – 1990-2013

Healthy people end up paying for the associated health problems of their obese counterparts via higher premiums, and as obesity goes up…

Obesity Rates – 2017

…so do insurance premiums, as even the government’s own HHS website has been forced to admit:

  • Average individual market premiums more than doubled from $2,784 per year in 2013 to $5,712 on in 2017 – an increase of $2,928 or 105%.
  • All 39 states using experienced an increase in individual market premiums from 2013 – 2017.
  • 62% of states using had 2017 premiums double what was measured in 2013.
  • Three states – Alaska, Alabama, and Oklahoma – saw premiums triple from 2013-2017.

Zerohedge made an incredible observation about the obesity epidemic when this report was released

The consequences of the obesity epidemic are devastating: High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke are not only killing millions of Americans annually — the obesity epidemic is also a humongous burden on the American health care system, making up $190 billion a year in weight-related medical bills.

…and summed it up succinctly with another quote:

Luckily, Obamacare socialized the medical cost of these bad habits…so enjoy those McDonalds fries and we’ll all share the cost of your blood pressure and cholesterol medications…it’s just more ‘fair’ that way.

Obamacare has socialized the cost of obesity by refusing to allow insurers to give incentives to customers to remain healthy, and to price customers according to their health risks. A record number of adults are forgoing health insurance in spite of the law’s mandate, and healthy individuals who do not “need” as much medical care as their obese counterparts are undoubtedly fueling the “opt-out” increases from Obamacare.

To be fair, the ACA didn’t start the obesity epidemic, but the law is without any cost impetus to change unhealthy behaviors.  The law has all but thrown gasoline on the obesity problem, by bringing the costs of insurance for obese individuals down, and greatly increasing them for their healthier counterparts.

Of course, this fact is likely lost on Obamacare’s liberal defenders, most of whom likely have top-tier employer healthcare to insulate them from the reality of Obamacare’s failures.  


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junction's picture

Supersize my Obamacare, please.

giorgioorwell's picture

Obamacare has many flaws and can really only be replaced by some version of a single payer, but this article is trottling out the old banning of incentives for healthy living argument that is nonsense.

My employer specifically gives incentives and discounts for healthy standards and has a whole menu of things to choose from.

Old, out of date, BS news recycled by hack bloggers seems to be ZH's specialty. 

How exactly is this not exactly the kind of FAKE NEWS that Cheetoh in cheif is constantly screaming about?




GunnerySgtHartman's picture

Obamacare has many flaws and can really only be replaced by some version of a single payer

How about "some version" of people being responsible for themselves?  Noooooooo, we can't have that!  That might make some people feel bad about themselves!

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

Exactly. I'd go as far as allowing insurance companies to set rates they way they set them for automobile insurance. If you're an enormous cow who has multiple, expensive, enormous cow related health conditions, you should pay the enormous cow rate. If you stay in shape you get the discount rate - becasue it is based on your predicted costs.

Yes, some things are not the fault of the person. That's where I'm open to some kind of subsidy but it has to be tightly controlled.

Individual responsibility matters.

TheDude1224's picture

Individual responsibility matters.

I don't know what country you live in, but it sounds great! Beam me up Scotty!

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

The one where I said "I'd go as far as..." As in, if I had my way, I'd do this becasue individual responsibility matters (whether the gubmint is here to eliminate it or not).

SumTing Wong's picture

I tried to have this discussion with my Probability class today. They didn't want to hear it. I mentioned how much actuaries make, and they suddenly wanted to talk about the possibilities.

They had no problem with difference in prices for homeowner's insurance, car insurance, life insurance. But when I mentioned health insurance and the ACA, it was a completely different animal.

Snowflakes. Get off my lawn!

Mtnrunnr's picture

FAt people are fat because shit food is subsidized and addictive. Health insurance is expensive because it is subsidized and necessary. Do you see any parallels here??

Richard Chesler's picture

top-tier employer healthcare no longer exists.
Except for Corrupt congress critters.
Fuck you miserable homobama!

TheDude1224's picture

Good thing pizza costs $5.99 while a decent salad costs double. I can't remember the last time I saw a salad on a value menu. Those damn Mexicans picking the vegetables are making my produce prices TOO DAMN HIGH! (/sarc)

Implied Violins's picture

It's not the Mexicans causing the increase, it's the dribbling shits.

You can nuke a pizza and kill everything on it. A salad, not so much.

Mtnrunnr's picture

the Gov't subsidizes meat production.

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

Wow. Tell me how much you LOVE going to your state Motor Vehicle Administration, or most gubmint offices for that matter, to get something done that is important to you? HUGE lines, people behind the counter who could give a shit, etc. Welcome to single payer.

Implied Violins's picture

"Single Payer" is the GOAL here. After people have had enough with OBoy's bullshit, that is what will be shoved down our throat.

At that point, you can add a dozen prescriptions to that mega lunch pictured above, because the only doctors you will be able to see will be ones prescribed by the Medical Industrial Complex.

No alternative doctors or therapies will be funded. And, all our food will be GMO if these bastards get their way.

Shit, now I want another beer - and the one that dude above is holding isn't even in the fucking ballpark of what I crave...

Vilfredo Pareto's picture

Lol.  A Canadian style national health service will be a real eye opener to peeps accustomed to the incentives doctors have under fee for service, and Canada is richly funded relative to single payer peers.

MCDirtMigger's picture

Single payer is an ever greater cost sifter, from the healthy to the fat, lazy, stupid, non-productive. What we need is some pure unadulterated Darwinism. If you cant produce enough to provide for yourself, GTFO and die already.

ClassicalLib17's picture

Imagine what it cost medicaid and perhaps even social security disability for the 4,000 shot in Chicago year after year after...

TBT or not TBT's picture

You are onto something. If blacks were narrower they’d get shot a bit less.

MCDirtMigger's picture


Here’s some of the best parts of single payer. I hope you fatphucks get what you ask for.

Vilfredo Pareto's picture

Individual insurance market policies can't offer incentives except smoking.  That is what the article was about.  Your insurance plan at work can't either, but your employer can out of his pocket.



Duane Norman's picture

Painfully obvious you didn't read the article, note the last line:

"Of course, this fact is likely lost on Obamacare’s liberal defenders, most of whom likely have top-tier employer healthcare to insulate them from the reality of Obamacare’s failures."

Quite amusing, isn't it, that your "employer" gives you the incentives.  If you think these Obamacare plans are so great, go sign up for one, and then you can go write your own article on all the "healthy living" incentives your plan offers.   -Signed: Duane Norman, this article's author
johnnycanuck's picture

Trumpians are their own worst enemy in many ways, they don't understand what single payer means and are too intellectually lazy to explore the pros and cons.

If it doesn't come in 140 characters, they ain't fer it.

WhiteHose's picture

More than doubled since 2013. Is there something even bigger than super-sized? Wtf

Arnold's picture

I don't need gyno or mammogram services.
My last abortion was trying to trim the hedges before the sun set.

Implied Violins's picture

In California, gender is no excuse for missing a mammogram or prostate poke. You get 'em both, and then you have to pay for yours and another dozen immigrants as well.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Try being a woman and refusing these services. Wow do they get pissed you aren't participating in their income scheme. " I don't know why an educated woman as yourself does not see to your health!" What my dr doesn't understand is that is exactly what I am doing.


chrsn's picture

Amazing how many low income folks are fat fucks

GunnerySgtHartman's picture

Isn't it?

When I was younger, I was also amazed at how the fattest people drove the smallest cars.  It was, uh, interesting watching 400-lb fat guys get out of Honda Civics, Hyundai Excels, and Geo Metros.

ClassicalLib17's picture

I've noticed that those(formerly) little cars are now sized like mid-sized sedans.

Drater's picture

One of the few countries where poor people are fat...and have Iphones, two cars, and flat screen TVs 

TBT or not TBT's picture

Cheap carbs and cheap industrial seed oils are the food of the cheap.

GunnerySgtHartman's picture

eats two pizzas and drinks two 2-liter sodas daily

Good lord, that makes my stomach turn right there!!!

shovelhead's picture

Me too.

I'm calling Dominos right now.

Arnold's picture

Gunny, with the exception of a lack of table, Picture One looked like a swell afternoon at the Trough n Brew.

jamesmmu's picture

The Insurance Subsidies Trump Cancelled Were Outright Illegal. They Should Never Have Existed

BigCumulusClouds's picture

Why the hell would you take care of your health when you get it fixed by someone else for free? Heck I'd beat the shit out of my car if all it's repairs were free.

no ice's picture

The American Sick Care System fixes nothing and cures nothing.  All it does is suppress people's symptoms with drugs. Most people don't seem to understand this, though.  They think they're doing something good for themselves by popping their prescription drugs that their brainwashed doctors prescribed to them. Trauma care can set a broken bone, but your body still needs to heal it. The mainstream medical mafia loves cradle to grave customers.  That's why they vaccinate babies and then later drug them for all the terrible health problems the vaccinations caused.   

Avoid the American medical system like there's no tomorrow.  It's a sham.  If you desire true health check out Dr. Robert Morse on Youtube.  He tells it like it is.


RAT005's picture

You are 100% correct.  And any doctor that tries to provide actual care will probably loose his job. It is a contract violation for him to not follow the script.  The script is written by lawyers who have it approved by gov. Regulators.

WhiteHose's picture

And when you are out and about, look around. So many look just like that slob in the picture! 

TBT or not TBT's picture

Out and about in my neighborhood you hardly ever see them.

brushhog's picture

I actually think there is a much greater risk in having insurance coimpanies ( now backed by government force ) begin to dictate lifestyle choices based on perceived risk. In the past, when insurance purchase was optional, it was less of a concern. But now, we can't have people forced to buy insurance and then forced to make lifestyle choices by the insurance industry. This is the slippery slope we go down when we force people to buy a product...then product forces you to to do something else, then something more, etc,etc Until you cant make any decisions for yourself anymore, and then whats the point of living? To provide tax revenue and insurance premium payments?

WhiteHose's picture

Seeing that the vast majority of people are mentally lazy, that's exactly what they want! To have govt think and make decisions for them. And it's what the left wants as well. " I'm from the govt, I'm here to help"! 

TBT or not TBT's picture

Under Obamacare rules the insurance companies cannot discriminate based on prior conditione, eliminating such danger, no? I hate Obamacare btw.

brushhog's picture

Yes thats kind of my point, the article is blaming Obamacare for not encouraging healthier choices but really, do we want to go down that road? I hate o'care too but this suggestion turns it into a full orwellian nightmare.

reTARD's picture

Healthcare is actually deathcare. It's called practicing medicine and treatment (not cure) for a reason. Get your flu shots and vaccines yet, lol.

no ice's picture

Free Flu shots everywhere!  That in itself ought to make people stop and think.  Why does your government want to shoot you up with the flu or any other vaccine.  Is it because they truly care about your health and well being because they love you so much?  Or, is it because they have another agenda which includes making you ill on many levels.  Next time you're accosted in a store to get a flu shot ask the brainwashed person who wants to give you the shot two questions:  1.  What are the ingredients in the vaccine?  2.  What are the side effects?  True fact: Possible death and possible paralysis are two of the side effects.  We rarely hear about the many people who suffer these side effects.  A former neighbor of mine was paralyzed by the flu shot.  He was newly retired and only in his 60's.  That flu shot ruined his and his wife's lives.  

brushhog's picture

I NEVER have had a flu shot. At 45 years old, if I cant handle the flu, I should probably die anyway to keep my shitty genes from being passed on.

johnnycanuck's picture

Big Gulps fuels obesity.  Fast food empires fuel obesity.  All you can eat buffets fuel obesity.

Couch potato sports watching fuels obesity.

The list is long.

Give me Big Gulps or give me death came the cry!


The diabetes epidemic in the US pre dated Obama/Romney Care.


And now to today's adult news...  Iraqi gov't defends sovereignty, US lawmakers threaten to cut off  arms and $1 billion aide?? and voice support for Barzani mob independence.