Doctor’s rejection of the willfully obese makes exercise expert ask: Who’s responsible for your health? Who should pay for it?

Bryant Stamford, professor and chairman of the Department of Kinesiology
and Integrative Physiology at Hanover College in Indiana, wrote in his weekly exercise-and-health column Thursday’s edition of The Courier-Journal:

“I caught an interesting news story on TV about a physician who refuses to treat obese patients. That was the headline. In truth, when she was interviewed she made it clear that she had a number of obese patients and she was treating them,” if they were willing to lose weight. She referred the other obese patients to physicians who specialized in care of the overweight.

Stamford asked: “Is this approach the rationing of health care? It’s rationing it to those who take responsibility for themselves by managing their weight. . . . I don’t support withholding health care to anyone, and that includes the obese and smokers. But it does raise the issue of who is responsible for your health. We spend far more on health care than other industrialized countries, and we are bankrupting our health-care systems, including Medicare and Medicaid. Why? We follow a health-destroying lifestyle, then we expect to jump into the health-care system and have it perform miracles. And, more often than not, it does, but it costs a fortune for each patient. Does this make any sense?”

He points to ways in which some countries have decided in what order people get heart surgeries — those who smoke are not first in line. What it could mean in the future for us?  “I believe the writing is on the wall. … If you engage in health-destroying behaviors, you will be required to pay a lot more for health insurance. It’s the model for life insurance, and there already are rumblings around the country supporting a move in this direction. Stay tuned.” Read the column here.

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