Originally Answered: DO you think insurance companies that pay for smoking cessation programs in full but not weight loss programs?
I love when people say 'discrimination'. What they do, in fact, mean is "I have this (vice, condition, or preference) and someone won't give me something". Almost as common as "I know my rights". Just so we're clear:
Discrimination- Treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit; partiality or prejudice: racial discrimination; discrimination against foreigners.
Insurance-the transfer of risk to a third-party.
Risk-the hazard or CHANCE of loss.
Insurance companies are in the business of taking on potentially large 'risks' (medical bills) in return for a small (by comparison) monetary stipend. The greater the risk (obesity, smoking) the greater the chance of loss. As such, they are under no obligation to be 'forced' to take and/or offer services to people that are extreme risks. Think about it. If you agreed to take $100 a month from your neighbors and in return, you would make all repairs to their houses, which would you rather choose, the well-kept, newer house or the old, dilapidated, unkempt house ? The insurance company performs a valuable service by taking the risk of YOUR hospitalization for a small monthly fee. It's not a risk if it's a certainty. Insurance companies make money for their shareholders by having a lower chance of claims. They are a BUSINESS, not a charity. People have lost sight of that and believe having someone else pay their bills (i.e. large hospital bills) as their 'right'. In fact, SMOKING is not a right. Your rights are "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". Notice it says PURSUIT. Not guarantee. Nothing GIVEN. Something EARNED. And your pursuit of happiness is only if the first two rights of others are not jeopardized. Smoking kills others...but that's another discussion.
I think when you look at what insurance companies are there for...to protect against the CHANCE of something happening (for which they turn over BILLIONS of dollars annually in claims), that it begins to make sense as to why they 'discriminate' (in your words). If everyone had health insurance since birth and didn't EVER go without, then we wouldn't have these problems.
As far as smoking vs. obesity...only the insurance companies know for sure why they cover smoking-cessation vs. obesity. With smoking, it's more of an addiction-breaking. The health risks are very well-known and once your finally 'clean' for a period of time people don't go back to it. Obesity is an addiction as well, however, it is purely an emotional or mental addiction as opposed to the addition of a physical addiction with smoking. Once you break the 'physical' addiction with smoking, it is much easier to ignore the mental and emotional considerations. Once you break your smoking addiction, then typically the hard part is over. However, with obesity, once you stop exercising, or have that dessert with friends, you're starting down the same road again. Obesity can creep up on you as well. With smoking, you either are or you aren't. If you smoke one cigarette, you still 'smoke'. Overeating once, doesn't make you fat. So people are more likely to slip...but those slips add up.
Method of delivery is different as well...there is no 'safe' amount of tobacco. There IS a safe amount of food. With obesity, there is the prospect of liposuction, lap belts, gastric bypass, etc. which could conceivably be part of an 'obesity program'. Any surgical procedure has other risks. There is also the problem of people 'going the other way', i.e. bulimia, anorexia which is a medical problem in itself.
To answer your additional question, Yes, it is easier to treat and greater return on those that quit smoking...it is the number one controllable health risk. Obesity does cause other problems, but not to the extent that smoking does. I also believe that there are mental and emotional ties to smoking, as well as social ties. However, most of the 'urge' (and why it is so hard to quit) is from the physical addiction. Obesity DOES have a physical addiction as well...it is called 'hunger', but that can be controlled easier than smoking's addiction.