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letters | WRESTLING WITH OBESITY

Consumer choice must factor into easing health costs

The May 9 edition of the Globe included an article on the State House debate on health care payment reform (“2 Mass. plans vie for savings on health care,” Page A1) and a column by Derrick Z. Jackson on obesity and health care costs (“Obesity, the new cigarette,” Op-ed). Providers were the primary target in the payment reform article; the food industry the target in the column about obesity. What is missing in both debates is a mention of personal responsibility and the role of the consumer in controlling skyrocketing costs.

Unlike other forms of insurance, such as auto insurance, health insurance contains no semblance of experience rating or consumer financial incentives for doing the right thing. If we really want to control health care costs, we need to reform the insurance marketplace to create true financial incentives in the form of future premium reductions for proper behavior, including using low-cost providers, quitting smoking, losing weight, and engaging in wellness programs.

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We should all be willing to share the health care costs of someone else that come about as a result of bad luck; we should not have to cover as many avoidable costs as we do today that are brought about by bad behavior.

Jon B. Hurst

President

Retailers Association

of Massachusetts

Boston

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