Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kate: Weighing In On Health Care

I'm not going to lie ~ this post isn't really about weight loss.

I mean, it is in a big-picture-being-overweight-is-bad-for-your-health kind of way.

But I've decided to warn y'all up front so you can pass up reading the rest of my rant - because this blog is a phenomenal way for me to talk about how your vote on Election Day is also a vote for your health. And I should also say this post does not represent the beliefs of every Loser posting on this blog. These beliefs are my own, so if you want to berate someone, feel free to head on over to my own site.

But before I get on my soapbox, I think I should underscore a few points we can likely all agree on.

1) Fat does not do a body good.
Scientists in Sweden just released the results of a study that shows obesity can bring on arthritis for folks who are middle-aged and older. The research is interesting, but it doesn't take an expert for me to realize all the extra pounds of flesh on my hips, legs, tummy, chest, etc. are all taking a toll on the bones, muscles and cartilage holding up my 5' 8" frame.

Obesity is also related to some cancers and diabetes (and a possible first fall in life expectancy in 200 years).

There's no two ways about it - being fat is really bad. Really, really bad - at least where your health is concerned.

2. Healthy food is expensive.
When was the last time you bought organic? Noticed the difference in the price for a bunch of organic bananas vs. the conventional (read: Chiquita) kind? What about the price of a healthy salad at McDonald's compared to the least expensive Value Meal? Go to the neighborhood grocery store and spend ten bucks on produce and ten bucks on processed food - I'll bet you dollar to doughnuts that you'll walk with more food if you stock up on Spaghetti-Os, Lean Cuisines and frozen chicken fingers than apples, broccoli and spinach.

Good, healthy food is expensive, and unfortunately we are passing on this difficult paradigm to our nation's schools.

Think about it. When your child wakes up in the morning, you ensure she brushes her teeth and washes her face. You make sure she buckles her seat belt as you drive her to school, and then you kiss her goodbye. Each morning, you take every precaution to ensure your little girl is safe and healthy ~ and when she spends your money on lunch in the school cafeteria, she's forced to buy processed pizza slices and french fries. Her cafeteria tray comes in contact with nary a vegetable or fruit - and it's all because the schools don't have the cash to provide each child with a healthy meal.

The path to obesity starts young - and it's a path that is especially hard to avoid if you're impoverished.

3) Hell... being fat is expensive - for everyone.
The astronomically rising number of people reaching obesity is a societal first. Never before have there been so many overweight people on earth. I suppose it's a perfect storm of fatty foods and the prevalence of convenience these days - the convenience of driving thru to get your food instead of walking and hunting for it. The convenience of easily eating three (fatty) meals a day instead of two smaller meals and one more substantial one. The convenience of having so many different kinds of foods at our fingertips. Whatever the case may be, there are more obese people walking the earth than ever before, and it's taking its toll on our privatized health care system. The nation's insurance companies are shelling out billions to cover claims for obesity-related ailments.

Seventy five percent of our nation's health care costs are tied to patients who have one or more chronic conditions - chronic conditions that are likely associated with being overweight.

Your office will likely have to raise its health insurance premiums someday, and it's because that lady in accounting is carrying an extra hundred pounds.

Okay, maybe not literally, but I think you get my point.

So there we have it. My trio of arguments that help explain why solving the U.S. obesity crisis is essential to our way of life - and our longevity of life.

And now for the soapbox portion of this interlude.

Both presidential candidates have a health care plan they want you to know about.

Senator Obama wants to offer expanded access to Medicaid and mandatory health care coverage for children. He wants to require employers that don't offer health insurance coverage to contribute a portion of payroll to a national plan (exempting small businesses - and offering them refundable tax credits on 50% of premiums). Obama's plan would cut premium payments for families by about $185.

A non-party think tank determined Obama's plan would reduce the number of uninsured by 26.6 million in 2010 - from the current 48.9 million.

Senator McCain wants to replace the current income-tax exemption for health insurance premiums paid by employers with a refundable tax credit of $5,000 per family (and $2,500 for individuals). McCain also wants to let people buy insurance across state lines. McCain's plan would increase premiums for families by about $379.

The non-party think tank says McCain's plan would reduce the number of insured by 21.1 million by 2010.

I don't think I have to underscore the big points for you, but I will:
Obama will give Medicaid to more of the nation's needy.
Obama will ensure every child has health care.
Obama's plan will cut your premiums.
Obama's plan will boost health coverage for 26.6 million (5.5 million more than McCain's plan).

Some of you might read this and think it's all rubbish.

But I prescribe to a dogma that includes good health care for everyone - at a price we can all afford.

See you at the polls November 4th - I'll be the one casting her ballot for Obama.


Jeffrey Peel said...

Given the 'theme' of this trail I thought you and your readers may be interested in a new blog we have built (sponsored by McCain Foods) that focuses on school food. The site also features a questionnaire that can be completed by parents. Obesity is endemic in the USA and yet, often, school food is part of the problem. The blog is only going to be up for a short while and it would be great if your readers could have a look and add some comments.

The site is managed by me, Jeff Peel, and I'm an independent market researcher. I'll read every comment personally.

I'm sure you will agree that the foods that your children are fed in school will have an impact on their well-being. We're really keen to hear your views.

Jeff Peel
Quadriga Consulting Ltd