From the health-care reform bill that has been approved by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (via CNS) :
“Health status underwriting and the imposition of pre-existing condition exclusions are prohibited in all individual and group employer markets,” says the committee’s summary. “Rates within a geographic region may only vary by family composition, the value of the benefits package, tobacco use, and age by a factor of not more than two to one. Guaranteed issue will be required for all insurers operating in the individual and group health insurance markets.”
This reminded me of a story on NPR Morning Edition a few years back about prescriptions and insurance that featured a soundbite from a "typical" person who *had* to have many different meds to maintain her health. She mentioned that she had eight prescriptions, two of which were to counteract the side effects of other meds. The list went like this: insulin for her Type II diabetes, medication for blood pressure and high cholesterol, meds for dry eye and dry mouth, and antidepressants. In other words, she needed most of this regimen because she wasn't eating right and getting enough exercise. For numerous reasons, tobacco is the one vice that the Left has targeted for "special treatment," the enhanced interrogation techniques of Politically Correct Arsenal. It's addictive, and there's lots and lots of corporate money to squeeze out of this weed. With respect to the health care legislation, CNS points out that the only vice punishable by higher premiums will be smoking. Tobacco is one of the few vices that doesn't actively erode the family unit and (emotionally) healthy relationships, so its users can't be folded into the vast dysfunctional/dependency classes that look more and more to the Government to sustain them. As an iconic example of this, I offer exhibit A:
Having just seen two teenagers through state-required health classes, the monumental and destructive hypocrisy of this is particularly galling. You can inform kids about "choices" all day long, but the only habit that is stigmatized officially is smoking tobacco? Colleges and universities, which are universally government-funded, aren't required to reveal the rates of STD's on their campuses, and most are in the business of actively promoting casual sex. Litigation has mostly corralled the official promotion of alcohol use at most campuses, but other risky and detrimental behavior is actively encouraged. Mind you, I'm just using this aspect of this paragraph of a 1000+ page bill as a jumping off point. I see much else to critique, beginning with the premise that the government has any business dictating what insurance companies can and cannot underwrite. Don't get me started on the "smoke-free" military, the mutual back-scratching of legislators and Phillip-Morris (NR, may be sub. only,) and Barack Obama's pathetic, crawling admissions that he's a user.
With a hat tip to Commander Cody, who does a stellar version of this, Tex Williams for your inhaling pleasure: