Obese Australians should pay more for private health insurance according to a group of doctors who say overweight Aussies are putting too much strain on the health system.
The group has also proposed a ‘fat tax’ on unhealthy foods to deter people from buying sugary and fatty treats and push them towards healthier choices instead.
Several doctors backed the call at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) conference in Brisbane at the weekend, saying there should also be a weight limit for some procedures to help avoid complications during surgery and recovery.
But the AMA has slammed the idea, calling it “discriminatory” and saying it would hurt some of our most vulnerable Aussies.
Around 63 per cent of Australians are overweight or obese, but AMA Vice President Tony Bartone says segregating them from private health is wrong.
“If they were to face adjustments in their premium they would potentially be put at risk of dropping their health insurance and would become a burden on the public purse,” he told Starts at 60.
“You need to allow and ensure that private health insurance is available to all those in the community who seek it.”
He says increased premiums for obese people would run the risk of millions of Aussies ditching their private cover and relying on the public health system instead.
“Without a good, strong, robust private system, the public health system would probably collapse under immediate strain,” he says.
But endocrinologist Prof John Prins, who attended the ANZCA conference, says drastic measures such as this are the only way forward.
“If you don’t think it will work, think pool fences, seatbelts etc,” Prof Prins told the Herald Sun.
“Everybody knows it probably should be done, but nobody knows how to do it.”
He said such measures “are more punitive in a sense, but it’s like when you build a new tunnel and the only people who pay for the tunnel are the people who drive through it”.