Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Posted tonight to the UTCSTAFF Yahoo List

I could not resist. After a dozen people wrote in complaining (on principle, not because they were personally affected) about the State of Tennessee imposing a $50/month health insurance surcharge, I wanted to be the first to correct their thinking. Ha! Yeah, I'm just that dumb.

***My humble post***

With all the issues that this campus faces, it's a small change in health insurance that has generated so much outrage on the normally all-too-quiet mailing list...and so it is my distinct honor to cast the sole dissenting vote.

I am in favor of the tobacco use surcharge!

It seems that in seeking to reduce health costs the state had a choice: either raise everyone's rates, or just raise the rates on people who choose to smoke and therefore have poorer health. Then use some of that revenue to fund a long overdue program of assistance to help people quit the very same deadly habit. Makes sense to me!

This is not the holocaust, and the analogies comparing it to such are inappropriate. No one is telling people they can't smoke. You have same the choice to smoke or not that you've had since you became an adult. Most or all of the rhetoric we've heard so far would have us believe that if we allow this surcharge to stand, Big Brother will soon have cameras in every bedroom, take away all our guns, reinstate prohibition, and eventually execute everyone who doesn't meet government standards of theology and geometry. Calm down, folks. Auto, life, and (gasp!) health insurance companies have been charging groups different rates based on risk factors for as long as I can remember and the world hasn't ended yet. If you honestly think that a well-intentioned plan to help employees live longer and healthier lives is in fact an evil plot to whittle away your freedoms, perhaps a University is not the institution where you should spend your time.

I have friends who smoke, and I support their right to do so as long as it doesn't harm someone else. But they ought to quit, and every one of them knows it. Smoking is bad. Discouraging smoking (while allowing the freedom to choose to smoke) is good! What more is there to say?


Rodger said...

Nobody ever reads this, so I'll have to follow up with my own follow-up. It seems that I am the only person on campus who likes the new tobacco use surcharge, and that cynicism, hyperbole, and the fallacy of extrapolation rule at UTC. Here's my final response:

Remember ten years ago when Tennessee received 1.4 billion dollars in tobacco settlement money that was supposed to go toward anti-smoking efforts and research but instead was used to balance the budget? Tennessee (as most states did) misappropriated that money while laws were still on the books *requiring* that every state building have indoor smoking facilities. Given that we already spent all that tobacco money with such great hypocrisy, it seems only fitting to me that smokers themselves should pay for the programs we were supposed to put in place a decade ago.

Rodger said...

All of this was a waste of time. Under pressure from people who feared "big government" was trying to tell them how to live their lives, no doubt joined by the very formidable tobacco lobby, the state caved in and "postponed" the plan. I doubt the idea will ever be spoken again.