Weigh More, Pay More?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 11, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: There is a growing battle in health care debate, literally growing -- people's waistlines, obesity. Here are two questions. One, should obese people have to pay more for their insurance? And two, should thin people have to pick up the tab for overweight people if they get sick?

Joining us live is Steve Moore, senior economics writer for the "Wall Street Journal" editorial page. I got into a knockdown, drag out discussion with you last night, Steve. I do not want to get close to this with a 10-foot pole. This is not a good topic.

STEVE MOORE, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, you know, this has become one of the real spark points of the health care debate. There is a huge section of the bill dealing with wellness.

And we do know that people who live healthy lifestyles, who maintain their wage, to get involved in physical activity, don't smoke, don't drink they have much lower health care costs.

And so this is an interesting economic and ethical issue about whether insurance companies should be able to charge people who live healthy lifestyles by holding down their weight, should they charge them less that people who are overweight or horizontally challenged, or whatever term we us to describe these people?

And what I discovered in doing some research on this issue is there is actually an advocacy group in Washington for the advancement of fat people, looking out for their interests. And right now insurance companies are not allowed to charge different premiums based on a people's weight.

VAN SUSTEREN: We did a little research. Both the House and Senate Finance bill have specific language that say you cannot set premium rates, weight cannot be taken into consideration in charging people more.

Now, here on some other factors to consider in the debate -- 2008, $147 billion in medical spending are on conditions associated with obesity. And the other statistic is that obesity 9.1 percent of all medical spending. Now, if we can find at how to get everybody fit, that would be a great start.

MOORE: Yes. And I am very much in favor of allowing insurance companies to charge different premiums based on a person's health and living styles.

And I do think that, look, if I am trim and I'm keeping in shape, I should not have to pay the same premiums for someone is way overweight and does not work out and eats all of the wrong food.

And if you want to hold down costs in health care, we have to do something about obesity. It is a national epidemic. And this is an interesting question. Should someone trim like you pay the same insurance rates as Oprah? I say no.

VAN SUSTEREN: Oprah can afford to pay anything. She can buy our health-care system.


Within the bill, there is a specific wellness program with incentives, you get 30 percent off or something. But that means if you started out bad. So if we pass the new bill for all the people who happen to be healthy, you won't that 30 percent off, only the people that starts off with a more rugged situation.

MOORE: We know from companies that have these insurance plans to put financial incentives to lose weight if they are obese or for people to engage in physical activity, it works very well.

As you know, I interviewed John Mackey at Whole Foods. He says by having these wellness programs and incentives for people to lose weight who are overweight, it has a tremendous impact on people's behavior, and it reduced costs.

So I am all in favor of this. I am not sure what political correctness is interfering with something that can really reduce health care costs.

VAN SUSTEREN: But there is something patently unfair that the better the thing tastes, the more fattening it is. There is just something so grossly unfair.

MOORE: I'm with you on that.

VAN SUSTEREN: This whole discussion is so unfair and so many people fight the challenge of having extra weight that...

MOORE: But here's the point, Greta, not everybody is a victim. If somebody is overweight or they smoke or they drink, they are not a victim. People can change their behavior, and I think that is the reason I come down on the side of saying, yes, let's encourage people financially to engage in this.

A huge amount of the cost of our health care system is related to obesity -- heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, all of these things. We could really reduce costs, and that's what this is supposed to be all about, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: I want all of our viewers to know that Steve said this, I did not.

And we're going to have to go to break. Steve, thank you very much.

MOORE: I think I won this argument today, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: I was quiet on it.

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