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News The cost of stress

  1. May 28, 2009 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/effects-of-stress-on-your-body

    Given that we tax alcohol, tobacco, and now even fat, based on the logic that the use of these products have a financial cost to society, it is interesting to note that stress is probably the single greatest cause of health problems, after genetics and aging.

    Do insurance companies have the right to test for stress hormones and adjust insurance rates accordingly? Also, is it possible to somehow tax people who choose highly stressful lifestyles, or who engage in highly stressful activities?

    Can an insurance company identify a person as a Type A personality, and charge for it?

    Edit: Tobacco :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. May 28, 2009 #2
    I think they should charge everyone specifically to whichever group they fit into. That way those of us who aren't the big drains on the system get better deals. Why should those who are typically healthier carry those who typically aren't?
     
  4. May 29, 2009 #3

    neu

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    Yeah, why should anyone give a **** about anyone else?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 29, 2009
  5. May 29, 2009 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    What does caring about people have to do with it?
     
  6. May 29, 2009 #5

    LowlyPion

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    In related news:
    http://rawstory.com/08/afp/2009/05/29/us-army-base-shuts-down-after-rise-in-suicides/ [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  7. May 29, 2009 #6
    I don't think stress is exactly comes under the same category as "alcohol, tobacco, and now even fat" because stress can be an effect of productive work but other things are not related to productivity
     
  8. May 29, 2009 #7
    It's my opinion that stress itself is not the issue. It's how it is dealt with. A high stress life is required to accomplish great things. If you deal with the stress with regular exercise and a decent diet, some form of psychological support (friends, sports, therapy, etc.) I think one can do fine. But if it's dealt with excessive smoking, eating, drugs, alcohol, and other destructive practices, one tends to develop health problems.
     
  9. May 29, 2009 #8
    But, LOL, I'm hardly one to talk.
     
  10. May 29, 2009 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    Presumably, productive work already yields financial benefits. So the person has been rewarded for that. But the cost to society from stress due to overwork, for example, still exists [to the tune of one bailout a year, apparently]. There is also the genetic component, which I assume exists at some level. I don't see how charging or taxing for this is any different than taxing people's addictions, or charging more for insurance based on one's health history, age, demographic, etc.

    Also, lifestyle choices are surely a significant factor in determining one's stress levels. A few simple tests might be, the number of hours that one works each week, the number of hours one spends in traffic each week, or even one's debt to income ratio. There must be quantitative methods for determining stress levels. Perhaps a blood test would tell as much as anything? Are stress hormones a reliable indicator? [I have only heard these being referenced. I don't know anything about it]
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2009
  11. May 29, 2009 #10
    Too much stress=Not enough sex
     
  12. May 29, 2009 #11

    1. I am assuming that personal returns are also the returns to the society.
    2. Putting tax would deter people from choosing stressful lives styles so employers would have to pay more or there would be less output from those areas (which is not desirable). This makes me wonder if there would be any difference. Looking from economics perspective, I don't think taxing people with stressful lives would solve the problem.

    One better approach I see is to educate employers about the stress harms and I am sure most know the harms and try to prevent them by providing facilities like gyms/others to its employees.
    e.g.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2009
  13. May 29, 2009 #12
    I have heard some criticism over referencing combat and multiple tours as a cause of the hiked suicide rate. Specifically the reference in regards to the man at camp Victory who shot several people. He was an engineer, not on combat duty. Soldiers deal with alot of sources of stress being away from home and financial issues that they have little to no control over (being overseas) are just as likely contributing factors. Its quite possible that the same factors being attributed to currently high suicide rates in america in general could account for much of this.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  14. May 30, 2009 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    Perhaps...maybe, maybe not. He might be a crooked used-car saleman. Making a personal profit is no guarantee that one is benefitting society, beyond paying taxes. The tobacco companies make a profit, pay taxes, and create jobs, but I don't hear anyone defending the tobacco industry.

    At 300 billion dollars a year in existing workplace losses, I think it could easily be justified - that is about $1000 a year for every US citizen. For that matter, if there was less stress, we would probably see a reduction in other problems like drinking, smoking, and drug use. Also, as indicated above, 75 to 90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Surely this translates into missed work days, reduced productivity, and even unpaid time off for people on very tight budgets. Finally, either punitive taxation works, or not. Part of the rationale for other taxes is that punitive taxes work.

    You are assuming that all stress is the result of productive behavior. It is not. It may result from anything from overspending, to cheating on one's wife, to cheating on one's taxes, and perhaps even genetics [Insurance companies charge other people for diseases related to genetics, I don't see why this would be any different].
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2009
  15. May 30, 2009 #14

    neu

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    What does caring about people have to do with the policy of the health system? I that the question you're asking?

    If you're trying to be clever it's happening the opposite effect
     
  16. May 30, 2009 #15

    cristo

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    In the world of health insurance, if you start charging people more if they find it harder to deal with "stress" (however you wish to define that), then isn't that tantamount to discrimination? After all, to some extent you cannot change your personality.
     
  17. May 30, 2009 #16
    There are already many ways in which insurance companies 'descriminate'. I'm not too familiar with medical insurance but I know car insurance companies charge differently depending on your sex, age, the area you live in, ect. Oddly enough the only variable that I know of that is actively being pursued as illegal descrimination is 'where you live'. Even though if you live in certain areas you are statistically more likely to get in a car accident it is considered racist to descriminate based upon where one lives since you are less likely to get in an accident in nicer (whiter) neighbourhoods and more likely to get in an accident in poorer (darker) neighbourhoods.
     
  18. May 30, 2009 #17

    Ivan Seeking

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    Yes, that is what I am asking. It is entirely consistent with existing laws. Do you see any special considerations for people with diabetes, for example? How is charging more for insurance for this any different than charging more for people who live stressful lives?
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2009
  19. May 30, 2009 #18

    Ivan Seeking

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    Again, I don't see that it is any different than existing laws and policies. Many people suffer from diseases that are genetically acquired, like diabetes, and they pay more for their insurance IF they can even afford to get any.

    The standard is that we charge people for their lifestyle choices, as well as genetics and bad luck for that matter.
     
  20. May 30, 2009 #19

    cristo

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    Yes, I suppose that's true. Of course, you could have a nationalised health system which doesn't (to the same extent) discriminate like that. I guess that's a different topic of discussion, though.
     
  21. May 30, 2009 #20

    Ivan Seeking

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    Or, maybe it is entirely relevant to this discussion. As you probably know, Obama wants to revamp health care. But there is also the issue of taxation for lifestyle choices. For example, smokers pay more for auto insurance, health insurance, and they pay additional taxes for the product they buy.

    Given that some people who have suffered severe health problems from smoking can be found smoking through their trache tube, I'm not even convinced that smoking is a choice in all cases.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2009
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