I Smoke, I'm Fat…and it's Your Problem!

According to a new survey from The Vitality Group, most Americans – 82%, think that they are responsible for their health.

  • They also agree that lifestyle choices, like smoking, over-eating and under-exercising, have a direct impact on the health and health care costs.

However, nearly half of Americans – 44%, believe they should not have to pay for their health care. What? Am I missing something here?

How can 82% of people claim responsibility for their health while at the same time expecting someone else to pay when something goes wrong. That just sounds wrong; and I am from Canada, the land of socialized medicine.

What’s Behind the Numbers?

When I first read this story, I was blown away by the hypocrisy. And then I looked a little closer.

Vitality Group is the health promotion branch of Discovery Holdings Ltd. And according to Google Finance:

Discovery Holdings Limited

Discovery Holdings Limited is a South Africa-based holding company that operates in the international health and life assurance markets. The Company operates through five businesses: Health South Africa, Health United States of America, Health United Kingdom, Life South Africa, Life United Kingdom and Vitality. Health South Africa administers and provides managed care services to medical schemes and renders administration services to other business segments within the Company. Health United States of America offers consumer driven health insurance products to employer groups and individuals in the United States of America. Health United Kingdom offers consumer-engaged private medical insurance products to employer groups and individuals in the United Kingdom. Life South Africa offers a range of insurance and financial solutions to the Company’s clients against the financial impact of lifestyle-changing events.
155 West Street PO Box 786722
Sandton, 2146
South Africa
+27-11-5292888 (Phone)
+27-11-5392958 (Fax)
Company website:
News Releases, Investor Relations, Financial Information, Corporate History/Profile, Executives, Employment Opportunities

Question: Can anyone think of a reason why an insurance company would encourage an employer to set up a health promotion / disease prevention program for it’s employees.

Hmmmmm….How about reducing claims and increasing profits?

My two cents

Okay, so we have two sides to this story.

  • On one side, we have an American (obviously, not just the U.S.A. – I see lots of fat Canucks every day) public that doesn’t want to actually take responsibility for it’s increase in obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Wrong, so wrong.
  • On the other side, we have an insurance industry that is using guilt along with the economic pressure of America’s employers to increase their own profits. Even wronger.

But looking at this mess, I can’t help but think:

  • What happens if because of this initiative, America’s employees become fit and healthy?

Does that mean that these two wrongs actually make a right?

Note: Here is the original article with all of the details.