Diabetes Self-Management Blog

Groups like the American Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association are well known — aside from their disease-related advocacy — for advocating a healthy lifestyle, one that may lower the risk of developing the health problems they represent. But according to a recent report, it is precisely these groups that blocked an effort in Congress that would have given people a financial incentive to make health improvements.

The bill in question, HR 3472, would have required most health insurance plans to reduce premiums for members based on certain measures of lifestyle improvements. It was introduced two years ago by then-Representative Kathleen Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania, who lost her bid for reelection last year. At the time, the bill received little media attention. The week before last, however, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart aired a segment in which correspondent Wyatt Cenac interviewed Rep. Dahlkemper about how the bill met its demise.

According to Rep. Dahlkemper, the medical organizations expressed their opposition on the grounds that many of the people they represent could not make the lifestyle improvements necessary for a discount under her bill. Although the Daily Show segment seems to suggest that people would have been able to receive a discount simply by exercising or joining a diet program, the American Diabetes Association disputes this characterization. In a statement issued the day after the segment aired, the ADA claims that it “took comedic license with the facts.” According to the ADA, the bill would have allowed health insurance companies to raise or lower premiums based on blood pressure, smoking status, cholesterol levels, body weight, or blood glucose control, thus “penaliz[ing] people with pre-existing health conditions and certain health risks.” According to the official summary of the bill at OpenCongress.org, HR 3472 would have required group and individual private health insurance plans to offer premium discounts for healthy behaviors based on guidelines created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Healthy behavior would be “indicated by factors related to smoking, blood pressure, body mass index, lipoprotein levels, and hemoglobin A1c levels.”

What do you think — is offering discounts on health insurance for healthy behaviors a good idea? If so, how should healthy behavior be measured — through medical test results, as in HR 3472, or by some other metric? Were the medical organizations right or wrong to lobby against the bill? Do you feel you would be more motivated to adopt healthy behaviors if you got a discount on your health insurance in exchange? Leave a comment below!

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Comments
  1. seem medical profession wished to make sure they got a job, healtly life style would increase lenght and quality of life but their not worry about that just their paycheck

    Posted by william dewall |
  2. What were the lobbyist arguments. They may be correct. You did not resent their case.
    Why?

    Posted by Amaze02 |
  3. If people have premiums increased, that could spiral into less health as they avoid doctors or even insurance. I would advocate for supporting healthy behaviors by providing rebates or classes or some other positive reinforcement..

    Posted by Liliana |
  4. There is a difference between a healthy behavior and a healthy outcome.

    If you dont have high blood pressure, A1c, cholesterol levels then you get a free pass on doing the healthy behaviors to maintain them.

    Testing the blood levels doesnt prove healthy behaviors are being done.

    Posted by Jenn |
  5. My employer has been talking about doing this for the last couple of years. Having a lot of ailments, it does not seem fair to me to be subject to this and the young healthy employee not having to jump through hoops to be able to afford their health coverage.

    Posted by Suzanne |
  6. Well, given that everyones ox would get gored as money maker for them, not surprising it got turned down.

    As for ADA why haven’t they got price of test strips under $ 77 per barrel of 50 at your local pharmacist. That would seem to be a a reasonable small request from us T2 diabetics.

    Type 2 costs could overwhealm and flatten medicare et all right into hell. Better crisis stratagies in stopping rot, cheaper test strips and healthy life style willl be critical in getting the type 2 spiralling health costs under control.

    So far, even if the ADA has excellent studies and data under their belt to help stop the rot in type 2, I do not see any usefull response coming from them while the world wide T2 rates of explosion and doubling and tripling of T2 insulin rates head vertical like a space shot at Cape Canaveral.

    Questions/comments raised seem most rational and on target.

    Posted by jim snell |
  7. Seriously I do not understand why people think discounts on things like insurance premiums would change behaviour. Once we’ve paid the insurance bill we don’t think about it any more. If people wanted to save money on something that is health related, there’s the smoking community.

    Putting the price of cigarettes up doesn’t stop people smoking - it just makes them poorer. I don’t smoke, think it’s horrible but happen to live with a smoker. Nothing much will entice him to give those terrible things up. He goes to the gym to mitigate the smoking!

    So I can’t figure out why a saving of a paltry sum is going to make people act differently. We human beings just don’t seem to work like that. Some are incented by money, but most of us aren’t.

    Posted by carly @ home workouts |
  8. I think there should be an type of reward or whatever for those who change their lifetyle and get healther. I saw in a place where if folks were over weight they were punished. Some work places I saw even monitor workers behavior outside the work place. LOL that is going too far. gov took the easy way out as usual. All this talk of healthy this or that and they do nothing to make it happen.

    Posted by PAT |
  9. A lot. More today than a year ago.Because of Obamacare, no company in America ofrfes stand alone children’s health insurance.Why? Obamacare dictates that it is guaranteed issue, without rate ups, regardless of health. Therefore, there is no reason to purchase it until there is a claim needing to be paid.That’s not health insurance. That’s a confiscatory tax on health insurance companies. Fortunately, they aren’t slaves yet, so they exercised the F U clause in the contract with the purple bellies from Washington and just refused to do business where they are guaranteed to lose money.How do you fix the problem of un- and under-insured? By making health insurance affordable.How do you make it affordable? By removing ALL government mandates, loser pays tort reform, encouraging competition between providers (enforce existing anti-trust laws), eliminate the AMA monopoly on billing codes, and eliminate the connection between employment and health insurance.Do these things and we’ll see health insurance cost less than auto insurance. More people will be covered, more people will be healthy.

    Posted by Nathila |

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