The Truth about Health Care Reform

I have held my tongue, bided my time, and hoped that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, like some bad dream would just go away. This singularly momentous act illustrates, quite clearly, the meaning of ‘absurd.’

Absurd is a Latin word meaning “out of tune.” In today’s English it may be either used as a noun or as an adjective. As an adjective it means wildly unreasonable, illogical or inappropriate.  As a noun it is an object which arouses derision or is ridiculous. It is patently ridiculous to assert that government intervention into health care is going to miraculously make it affordable. The proponents of the law have completely ignored an essential quality of human nature: free will.An example of free will, and the choices each of us make, is obesity. With very few exceptions, being obese is a lifestyle choice. In 2011, obesity became the most expensive item for our healthcare budget. According to Reuters, the cost for this line item is $190 billion per year or 20.6 percent of U.S. health care spending. Let’s not forget the choice to smoke, which was pushed into second place by the decision to be obese.  These two items account for as much as 40 percent of U.S. health care spending.

The government has now decided that if an individual wants to make a poor choice regarding lifestyle, the government (taxpayers) will bail them out as far as health care is concerned. Truly, this is absurd. And as regards obesity, there is absurdity, upon absurdity in the act.

The act addresses obesity by allowing employers to charge obese employees 30 to 50 percent more in what they contribute toward their health insurance benefit should an employee refuse to participate in a qualified wellness program designed to help them lose weight. Let’s see, “qualified wellness program or beer and pizza with friends after work?” Decisions, decisions, decisions—oh yes, free will!  Beer and pizza it is!

Place yourself in the employer’s shoes. The application of the premium surcharge must be uniformly applied to all employees. You charge an obese employee an additional premium, and more likely than not, you as the employer, will be sued, taken to court and must demonstrate who and who is not obese among all of your employees. The most likely scenario: no one who is obese is going to be charged extra, no one who is obese is going to attend a qualified wellness program and the health care costs for all those individuals who have chosen to be obese will continue to rise.

This posting has allowed me to illustrate one of the thousands of nuances in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I hope you will join me over the next several weeks as I illustrate several key components of the act. Also, on Friday November 22nd at 1:30 PM EST, I will be hosting a Webcast on the act.  Please join us. The presentation is web based and virtual seating is limited. For more information or to register, please send an email to

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