By Tara Servatius
CVS employees, and the rest of America, had better get used to turning over personal health information like their glucose levels and body mass index to their insurers - and to the federal government.
Starting in 2014, per the dictates of the federal government, your doctor must record your body mass index (BMI), which measures whether you are overweight, each time he or she treats you and turn it over to the government via your electronic health record, which every patient is required to have. Your BMI will then be tracked by the Health and Human Services Department, the agency rolling out ObamaCare, and a bevy of other state and federal agencies.
Shock and anger ensued this week as CVS employees learned that if they didn't turn over that information to their insurers, they'd be fined. But CVS is merely rolling out what may become one of the most controversial aspects of ObamaCare a little ahead of schedule.
One needs only to look to Europe to see how our political elites will use ObamaCare, and the BMI weight measure they are so determined to record for each of us, to intrude into and regulate not just our health care, but our lives.
In the U.K., overweight patients or those who smoke are branded "undeserving" and denied treatments like cataract surgery (without which they could eventually go blind) and knee and hip surgery, leaving some who don't qualify for the surgery in agonizing pain. Some of the U.K.'s "trusts," which regulate the national health care system for various zones of the country, go farther, denying all operations to those who don't meet the government's weight dictates except for lifesaving surgery on their hearts, brains or to remove cancer.
A recent study shows that a majority of the U.K.'s doctors think the national health system should go farther still and deny all non-emergency care to patients who don't meet certain weight and health criteria. By law, they still must pay for their health care, of course, even though they are denied the ability to get treatment.
Given all of this, it is chilling that the collection of each patient's BMI was so important to U.S. Health and Human Services that it was one of the first directives the department issued after ObamaCare passed in 2009. There is a reason for that.
It is clear that liberal elites and the Obama administration intend to take Americans down the same path as Europe. The apparatus to handle federally mandated "health interventions" into people's lives is already being put in place.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended that all obese adults receive "intensive counseling in an effort to rein in a growing health crisis in America" and that they have "intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions." According to the Los Angeles Times, these apparently will involve 12 to 26 counseling sessions a year with a physician or community-based program.
In the new health care regime that is coming under ObamaCare, each citizen will be reduced to a single, all-important series of numbers -height, weight, BMI, glucose levels - that tell the government all it needs to know about whether an individual is practicing a healthy lifestyle.
If we follow Europe's lead, Americans' weight will soon become the pretext for the government to intrude into and regulate many aspects of our lives through ObamaCare, regulations, and taxation.
Imagine that, not so many years from now, you are in the middle of a hectic day at work when you are called to the lobby. Your health enforcement officer is there to see you for a surprise weight inspection.
Your body mass index is taken right there in the lobby. The fact that you've gained 15 pounds since your last weigh-in is noted in front of everyone and immediately recorded in a federal database. Your BMI is a few points over the acceptable level. Your insurance co-pays will automatically go through the roof, but that isn't the worst of the consequences you'll face.
In North Carolina, state employees self-report their weight, their height and if they smoke to their state health plan administrators. Those who admit that they smoke or are overweight pay higher premiums. Those who claim they do not smoke and aren't overweight pay lower rates but are subject to random health "inspections" by agents of their health care plan - at home, at school, or at work - to verify that they have maintained a proper weight and do not smoke.
Corporations are now employing some of the same tactics, because ObamaCare incentivizes them.
These fat taxes and punitive charges are relatively small now, but under provisions of ObamaCare, they have the potential to grow to financially crippling proportions in the coming years. As the New York Times reported, current regulations allow corporations to charge employees who fail to meet specific government health standards up to 20 percent of their insurance costs. That jumps to 30 percent in 2014 and eventually up to potentially half their insurance costs.
Given the incentives in ObamaCare, these monitoring activities will no doubt soon be employed on the population as a whole. Corporations are already beginning to adopt them. The only way to escape them will be to decline health insurance coverage in violation of the law and pay a fine.
Given all of this, you can also begin to see the reasons behind the obsessive push from the White House to demonize not just obesity, but the food that causes it. This new obsession with dividing America into classes by weight and health will manifest itself in other ways outside the doctor's office, where the costs of obesity will be the justification for regulation and punitive taxation of foods government disapproves of. In a recent Reuters story, doctors were already calling for bans on certain foods, restrictions on food portions, and taxation not just of fattening foods, but of "empty-calorie" foods that don't contain nutrients or protein.
One way or another, under Obamacare, you will lose weight, stop smoking, and get healthier - or face the wrath of the federal government.