On September 13, 2012, the New York City Board of Health approved a proposal by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban the sale of “large sodas and other sugary drinks” at restaurants, movie theaters, and food trucks and carts throughout the city.
(“Large” is defined as “in excess of 16 ounces.”) The mayor’s reasoning was this: America is experiencing an epidemic of obesity, and the government has a role in containing that epidemic just as it would any other epidemic public health crisis.
That is prelude to this point: Burdened with ever-rising costs of health care, American employers, particularly in the public sector, are increasingly requiring their employees to make lifestyle changes or pay extra for lifestyle choices. In the instance of one private Indiana firm, for instance, a smoker is required to pay an additional $5.00 per pay period to cover the extra healthcare costs of smoking-related illness, while someone whose blood-cholesterol count is above a specified level must similarly pay more for health care than a colleague with a cholesterol count at or below that level. High blood pressure, obesity, alcoholism, and other conditions, that Indiana firm says, will be charged on the same à-la-carte basis.
Many employees, and some unions, have objected that employers have no business regulating the off-hours behavior of their employees. Some critics have wondered where to draw the line, and some have characterized the lifestyle-choice model of health premiums as moral rather than medical.
Other commentators, however, insist that it is in the employers’ interest to have a healthy workforce, and that it is within the rights of those employers and society at large to use the market to discourage bad habits.
Your employer, the CEO of a company with several thousand employees, is preparing to give a speech before the board and shareholders. Knowing of your background in economics, she has asked you to write a 500-word speech in which, in her name, you lay out the company’s new policy on the issue. Should the company establish a policy of differential premiums for lifestyle-related risks to health? Should it adopt a hands-off policy on an employee’s private behavior and charge all employees the same amount for healthcare coverage?
Your employer also asks you to consider this question: Would you have a different position if the costs of health insurance were borne by the government, and not by the company?
Regardless of your position, it will help your case to have a handle on healthcare costs overall, as well as the costs of illnesses that are presumed to be lifestyle-related; please be sure to include such figures in your argument. On another note, you will save yourself loss of points by properly distinguishing between “health care” as a noun and “healthcare” as an adjective.
Remember, as always, that a winning argument will employ an expressly stated economic *concept*. And please be sure that you understand all the instructions herein before you begin to write. If you do not, please let me know.
The post On September 13, 2012, the New York City Board of Health approved a proposal by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban the sale of “large sodas and other sugary drinks” at restaurants, movie theaters, and food trucks and carts throughout the city. appeared first on Blackboard Masters.