Katherine Faherty ’09 is currently an intern writing for Dollars & Sense. Her most recent article appeared on January 10, and focused on North Carolina’s recent mandate that “teachers and state employees be subjected to health compliance testing for their health insurance.”
Her article appears below. More articles authored or co-authored by Faherty are online on the Dollars & Sense Web site.
Faherty graduated from William Smith with a B.A. in economics; she was a member of the Writing Colleagues Program, and the William Smith Crew team, earning a spot on the 2008-09 Liberty League Women’s Rowing All-Academic Team.
Dollars & Sense
Get on That Scale!
Katherine Faherty • January 10, 2010
Starting this year, North Carolina teachers and state employees will be subjected to health compliance testing to qualify for their health insurance. The variables: smoking and weight. To enroll in the standard insurance plan, employees will have to attest that they-and any spouses or dependents-are nonsmokers with a Body Mass Index below 40. Otherwise, they can only enroll in a “basic” plan with higher deductibles, higher co-pays, and generally skimpier coverage. Exceptions are only granted for physician-verified participation in formal weight-loss or smoking-cessation programs. And to prevent “cheating,” anyone enrolled in the standard plan must agree to random tobacco-use and weight checks.
You can debate whether smoking is more addiction or more choice, or whether obesity results from bad genes or bad eating habits, or the extent to which obesity is a health risk. But in the end, when it comes to health care, it’s all about money. The state’s new insurance rules, also known as the “Comprehensive Wellness Initiative,” provides less coverage to people who are more likely to need medical care. Now there’s a sensible way to cut health care costs.
Katherine Faherty is a Dollars & Sense intern; she graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2009 with a degree in economics.