The obesity epidemic -- something any Pittsburgher who does not live in a cocoon is aware of -- has finally been discovered by the media thanks to a federal report. This national problem can be greatly mitigated with proper incentives -- some combination of carrot and stick.
The number of smokers has dropped in half as a result of the imposition of very high taxes and restriction on smoking in public places with an added push from public shunning. Workplace incentives to address overweight and other health hazards such as the highly successful program instituted by Safeway Stores have produced immediate and lasting results.
The problem is exacerbated by both our system of payment, which masks true medical costs, and by failure to charge for level of risk. With virtually every other form of insurance the price is set based on the individual case. That is true with car insurance, where drivers under age 25 pay heavy premiums because they represent increased risk. The same is true of life insurance and fire insurance on a home or business.
Because of the current approach to health insurance premiums the present system unfairly penalizes those who take care of themselves by socking them with costs for those who do not. Surely, some politically acceptable program can be devised to encourage people to do what is good for them personally.
HARRY M. CORBETT