The State of Alabama isn’t taking its workers’ obesity lying down. The state’s 37,000 employees have been given an ultimatum: Slim down, or pay an extra $300 per year.
Obesity has become a bit of an oversized target for cost-shifting. With over 30% of the state’s residents obese, Alabama will be the first state to assess a fat tax on its workers.
Increased health insurance premiums are but one way that being fat costs money, but typically this has largely been an issue with self-employed people. Group health insurance policies even the playing field, and the healthier, often slimmer members of the group subsidize the premiums paid by, or on behalf of, the less healthy members. Since obesity leads to many health issues, it makes budgetary sense to charge the people who contribute most to the rising costs of health insurance. Smokers have already been taxes in some places. Now apparently fat people are on the chopping block.
This will be a permanent money-maker for the state. Many people won’t take off the weight, and only a small fraction (about 5%) will keep it off for five years or more.
But there’s always that 5% that will win!