As waistlines in America continue to grow, so does the budget for providing care for the overweight.
In the US, a programme known as Medicaid provides healthcare to the poor with the help of the US and state government. However, with costs soaring and climbing by an average of 8 per cent each year, significant cuts need to be made.
The state of Arizona is now proposing that overweight Medicaid recipients who do not follow the health regime developed for them by their doctor, be slapped with a $50 annual fine.
Assistant director at Arizona’s Medicaid programme, Monica Coury, has said that the aim of the fine is to change behaviour using a carrot and stick approach, similarly to how increasing cigarette taxes reduced smoking.
“It’s reaching a crisis level in the US and we continue to complain about the rising uncontrolled costs of care – and yet we don’t drill down and test some of these concepts”. She said.
Coury explained that those who met their weight targets set by their doctor would receive incentives and rewards such as keep fit videos, and stressed that individuals with children and those who were overweight as a result of the medical condition would not face the fine.
“But if you are just an average person who is able to do something to address your weight issue, and your doctor believes you can do something about it and prescribes a regime for you and you choose not to follow it, your treatment [for heart problems in later life, for example] is costing more and we’re asking you to put something back to the system.”
Though the exact details of the scheme remain unknown, plans have been put forward by Governor Jan Brewer and will be agreed if the go ahead is given from Congress.
Fitness expert Lisa Johnson believes that though the fine alone may not be enough to changes peoples behaviour, it could help to encourage doctors to discuss weight with their patients.
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View the original BBC News article.