Medicaid program, the governor recently proposed introducing a $50 fee for some unhealthy program recipients like smokers and overweight diabetics who fail to follow a doctor’s orders to enroll in a smoking cessation program or lose weight.
Although this might seem like a harsh course of action, state officials are quick to voice their support. It’s not that individuals can’t be overweight, but rather, overweight individuals who refuse to follow doctor’s orders will pay a price for their lack of responsiveness. If the fee is approved, the influx of funding could help offset the future medical burden these individuals will place on the health care system as a whole.
A spokesperson commented, “This is an annual fee that says to consumers, ‘Hey, we’re not going to prevent you from smoking, but you have to put a little bit more into the system because it costs us more [down the line].’” And in fact, a 2006 survey showed that 46% of those in the state’s Medicaid program were smokers.
This fee proposal is just one of several cost-saving moves officials have brought up to raise money for the cash-strapped Medicaid agency. If approved, it would go into effect in October.
But, is this a discriminatory action? Will smokers and overweight Medicaid recipients protest the added fee, or will it spur behavior change and promote healthier habits? Will Arizona’s groundbreaking maneuver convince other states to follow suit with fees for defiant smokers and diabetics?