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I now present two pieces of information that are supported by the data, as far as I know. Provide a link if you know otherwise.

First, 80% of healthcare costs go toward chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Second, a huge study on diet and its correlation to disease, called The China Study, found that chronic diseases, particularly the ones I just mentioned, only get triggered if you eat a plant based diet, for the most part, regardless of your genetic propensity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_China_Study

The author's thesis, backed by a mountain of data, is that the only safe level of animal based food is zero. No milk or cheese either. Moderation simply doesn't work when it comes to eating meat. That's the data talking, not me, according to this expert. I haven't seen any data that contradicts that notion. Provide a link if you have.

As a practical matter, it would be impossible to ban meat from the diets of average Americans. But when you are talking about insurance of any sort, whether it is health or auto or hurricane, we accept the principle that risk factors can be considered in pricing. So all we need to do is charge meat eaters four times as much as vegetarians for health insurance. Over time it will create more vegetarians, for economic reasons alone, and healthcare costs will plummet.

You might say it is unfair for the insurance company to charge a higher premium for earthquake insurance to people who actually live on a fault line. But I say that's just good business.

Insurance companies shouldn't charge more to people who have preexisting or genetic problems of course, as these are things which can't be controlled. But people can certainly control their diets if they want to save money. As it stands now, vegetarians are subsidizing your cheeseburgers by paying more for health insurance than they should. (Insert counterpoint involving the non-existence of free will here.)

I want to stress that I'm not the sort of vegetarian who cares if you live or die, so long as you're enjoying yourself along the way. You can eat rusty tin cans and medical needles for all I care, so long as I don't have to subsidize it.

 
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Jul 29, 2009
These blogs are turning developing a 'control the people' bent.
As far as health insurance is concerned, before we attempt to modify behavior we should review the actual costs of service delivery and corperate profits. (and the costs associated with legal issues relating to 'malpractice' cases)
If health care was more acessible, and people were encouraged to make frequent visits to their health care professionals (fewer caps and co-pays), preventative medicine could reduce the costs of overall medical care.
If there was something resembling universal health care, at least to the point of every employer providing health care for their workers, the costs of coverage could be reduced.
As far as changing life styles, accept the fact that not every one desires to be a vegan.
Let's look at more constructive ways to change.
We don't need any more 'control freaks' in our system.
We are individuals, we should act responsibly and make the best choices for ourselves.
Big brother, whether the government or a new health care organization, is not really necessary.
 
 
Jul 29, 2009
You really don't understand the insurance companies. For one thing, they rarely do "penalties". You don't get a penalty for being a crappy driver...they reward you for being a good driver. They don't penalize you for smoking...they reward you for being a non-smoker. And...if you can prove to them that not eating meat is beneficial, then I would bet you a lot of money that they will come out with some reward for that. Of course, proving you are a vegetarian is a little more difficult than proving you are not a smoker. Being a former smoker, I know when I apply for life insurance they take blood tests. Presumably to see if there is nicotine in my system. Its just the way this part of capitalism works.

But...if the companies don't come out with this, you can pretty much bet its one of two things. 1) Being a grass eater is not a healthier life style or 2) its impossible to come up with a test to prove you are a grass eater.
 
 
Jul 29, 2009
Scott,

What percentage of healthcare costs go towards corporate profit? Here are the net profit quotes for 2007 and 2008 for United Healthcare:

2008: $2.98 Billion
2007: $4.65 Billion

Those are billion with a B. While I believe a company is entitiled to make a reasonable profit, that is an enormous amount of profit. That is net reported profit as well. That isn't just revenue or gross profit. For any public company in American, their real business purpose is to make as much profit as they can for their shareholders, even if it is a healthcare company, regardless of what actual services they provide. They do this by fighting every treatment and surgery that comes over their desks. Most doctors have to submit every health insurance claim at least twice to the health care company. Normally every claim is rejected once immediately and must be resubmitted. Medical insurance billing is an enormous overhead to any small medical practice.

One of the big things that I think would help the healthcare costs out is to allow cross-state insurance. Currently, you can only buy heath insurance from a company in the state you reside. Companies to not have to compete with companies from other states on rates. This reduces greatly the amount of competition each company has in a given area. I would gladly vote to allow me to shop around for better rates outsite of whatever state I'm in. The market for health insurance is greatly restricted, which reduces competition.
 
 
Jul 29, 2009
It's amazing how up in arms people get about taking their meat away. =)

The crux of this issue is really about government interference in our lives. We accept sin taxes on alcohol and tobacco now, but that wasn't always the case. Now Sctott's talking about changing health care premiums or coverage based on something that seems innocuous (meat eating). When and where do you draw the line about how much government interferes. Heck, you can't drive, drink a beer and not wear your seat belt anymore....

Yes, PETA is stupid
No, the Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine is not like PETA. It's doctors who belief they have found a better way to live. Not that doctor's alone can be trusted (eg Atkins), but PCRM has tons of medical studies to support their claims. They do research instead of just flashing celebrities.

I think Scott's suggest about insurance premiums is intellectually valid, but practically impossible to implement. Generally, vegetarians are healthier than meat eaters. That is a statistic you cannot argue against. Just accept it. That being said, some vegetarians are very unhealthy because they just cut meat out of their North American diet and end up eating nothing but carbs. Being a healthy vegetarian requires a change in lifestyle. And there are many very healthy meat eaters. And eating some meat isn't that bad. The problems associated with meat eating are nearly always related to a diet too high in protein.

And then there are excess eating issues, and while you won't see many overweight vegetarians, they certainly do exist.

PETA is annoying for shoving veggie stuff in your face, but eaters should stop would stop puffing the chests when the subject comes up.

Bottom line...

Just as most people are starting to accept global climate change, meat eating will become a bigger issue in the not too distant future. The health and environmental effects, not to mention the economic and resource wastefullness, will demand political attention. Do what you will in the meantime: start changing with the times by reducing consumption; enjoy your meat while you can; get cancer; join stupid PETA; complain bitterly about how life is not fair; whatever... just do it in your own backyard.



 
 
Jul 29, 2009
umm... no.

1. Insurance companies would be damaging their own business to encourage people to be "super" healthy, they need a propotion of people to claim in order to remind the mass populous that you need the insurance "just in case" if no-one claims then the populous wont feel at risk, no risk no insurance... Contrary to popular beliefe Insurance is about Risk Management, that means there has to be a risk there in the first place. Basically everytime some Fat american has a triple heart bypass 40 more people think, "better check my insurance"
2. We have a jaw that has evolved to eat both meat and veg, and a body that is designed to process both, and to require things from either source, Fat included... everything in moderation thing is good for you... I dont think i have ever heard of a vegitarian who was REALLY old, or for that matter super fit. I know plenty with reduced imune systems, low iron, and a whole host of other problems. Eating a beef stake good, eating a cow BAD, Having visited your relativly new country I am not suprised that you worry about being fat, your potions are about the same as 300 people from any other country in the world. Just eat LESS its real easy...

God save people who eat some of everything
 
 
Jul 29, 2009
umm... no.

1. Insurance companies would be damaging their own business to encourage people to be "super" healthy, they need a propotion of people to claim in order to remind the mass populous that you need the insurance "just in case" if no-one claims then the populous wont feel at risk, no risk no insurance... Contrary to popular beliefe Insurance is about Risk Management, that means there has to be a risk there in the first place. Basically everytime some Fat american has a triple heart bypass 40 more people think, "better check my insurance"
2. We have a jaw that has evolved to eat both meat and veg, and a body that is designed to process both, and to require things from either source, Fat included... everything in moderation thing is good for you... I dont think i have ever heard of a vegitarian who was REALLY old, or for that matter super fit. I know plenty with reduced imune systems, low iron, and a whole host of other problems. Eating a beef stake good, eating a cow BAD, Having visited your relativly new country I am not suprised that you worry about being fat, your potions are about the same as 300 people from any other country in the world. Just eat LESS its real easy...

God save people who eat some of everything
 
 
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 29, 2009
I remember when your blog was humorous, before you became a "bible-thumping" vegeterian.
 
 
Jul 29, 2009
First, this article failed at being funny. vegetarianism is just more dangerous than eating meat and hundreds of new problems involving it would pop up not too mention, if I have to eat every day I'm going to enjoy it - I don't care if I die at 70 because I ate meat, it would suck being a 100 year vegetarian.

On the other hand your point about obesity being the costliest illness we are currently faced with is true.

http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSTRE56R5UH20090728

Obesity cost the healthcare system twice as much as all forms of cancer, They're planning on trying to fix the problem, while not destroying our already weak economy. Maybe they should have a tax on portion size and cake, I've seen some fat vegetarians
 
 
Jul 29, 2009
This sounds more and more like Atlas shrugged. "The soya bean is the perfect food!"

If you want to argue your vegetarianism religion, that's cool, we can do that. But to claim one study is enough to try to use public dollars to change everyone's lives is crazy. There are plenty of studies that link carbs to the growing obesity craze. I know plenty of vegetarians who are fat, eat twinkies and doritos. As I recall from a couple of your books (which I loved and paid for) - you too. Well, the junk food part, not the fat part.

Scott - PLEASE accept that while meat eating *might* be bad for health, its not something you can ever get people to agree with you on. Now its starting to seem like you are trolling. And its not just the "I think its good for you", its "I *know* its good for you; its an undisputed scientific fact, and you can choose to ignore it if you are a moron" sort of tone.

"I haven't seen any data that contradicts that notion. Provide a link if you have."
http://www.amazon.com/Good-Calories-Bad-Controversial-Science/dp/1400033462/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1248876389&sr=1-1 for good calories, bad calories. Pretend to read it before you dismiss it.



 
 
Jul 29, 2009
Maybe you formulated this sentence wrong? It says: "found that chronic diseases, particularly the ones I just mentioned, only get triggered if you eat a plant based diet". Should't that be the other way around? They do NOT get triggered of a plant based diet. Or you could change the word plant to meat, so it reads: "only get triggered if you eat a meat based diet".
 
 
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Jul 29, 2009
Ugh, why do I have to pay for meat-eater's cheeseburgers, and the breeding and killing of cows!
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 29, 2009
James Garner is heading out to kick Scott's a$$.
 
 
Jul 29, 2009
The environmental argument in favour of the vegan lifestyle is far more compelling than the health claims made in the China study. We know that producing met is highly inefficient when compared to fruit, vegetable and grain production, but to suggest that vegans/vegetarians are less likely to get cancer is frivolous and highly misleading. Certainly from my own experience, the people I have known to have died from cancer were on vegan/vegetarian or other "special" diets, yet those in my field of awareness who don't put too much effort into their eating habits or choices don't appear to be having complex health issues. Perhaps the genetics of ethnicity also played a part in the China Study, and the results get lost in translation.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 29, 2009
In fact, having read the article a little closer, I see that the less meat you eat in your diet the better the health benefits - a much sounder scientific claim!
 
 
Jul 29, 2009
I have no doubt in my mind that vegetarianism is healthy for adults - my vegetarian friends always seem healthier (although they tend to cheat now and again with a piece or two of oily fish) . I have made an effort to cut down on meat (particularly red meat) over the years to limited success. However, I have my doubts whether strict veganism can ever be healthy - any diet that requires vitamin supplements to make it viable seems dodgy - afterall what of the health risks of vitamin supplements themselves? (see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article3754205.ece for example - I make no pretence that I did anything more than google for this!)

However, I think children (extending to pregnant women) may need a small amount of meat in their diet. We evolved to eat meat because of the developmental benefits (particularly in our brains) and I don't see how that could have changed.

And one final word, any study that claims that removing something from your diet entirely is the only route to benefit needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Nature is rarely that black and white (e.g. we can all agree smoking is bad for your health, but those who smoke most have the worst health).

Still, on the whole, we could all benefit from cutting back on how much meat we eat.
 
 
Jul 29, 2009
Another blow for the puritans. What level of proof would you need before deciding on this course of action? How often would people need to report for testing? I'm more and more of the opinion that cheapatopia is a good idea, and we can put all the people who want to risk-assess all actions and charge by the dollar for all activities not condusive to living forever in there and throw away the key. I'm happy to pay for the cardboard and vitamin pills which would make up the diet to be poured over the wall once a week.

If people don't die of the things you mention, what will they die of? All these healthcare risks seem to ignore the fact that meat-eating, drinking, smoking extreme sportsmen die younger, and so don't claim for a lifetime of checkups, colds and prosthetic limbs. Follow your course of action and we risk getting swamped in million-year-old risk-averse vegetarians in public transport. And I don't want to think about that for too long.
 
 
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Jul 29, 2009
Of course you are right. And of course this doesn't go down very well with most of the people, as can be seen by the comments and their grading.

There are exceptions however, of which my girlfriend is one. She is a vegatarian by conviction, but she also has a blood anaemia. For this condition it would be better to eat more red meat, but as that means killing more animals, she doesn't do it.

To the commenter who favoures a world with more lazy fat-asses as opposed to one with elitist (meaning intellectual, when exactly did that become a cuss word?) vegatarians: think Wall-E or Idiocracy, that is probably along your lines.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 28, 2009
Mr. Adams, this idea is half-baked at best.

If my insurance company dramatically adjusted rates based on an untested extrapolation from a single recent study, I'd switch insurance companies, even if the new rates were in my favor (this time). Any other move would be foolhardy.

But let's say they did this based on a lifestyle choice which many, many studies over many, many years say is significant: smoking. I think that'd be fundamentally fair if and only if they solved extremely difficult practical problems, including the following:

* Most Americans' insurance is tied to their employment - their employer assumes the cost of their insurance as a condition of hiring, never even shows them the dollar amount, and likely offers only one insurance plan. If their employer declines to hire or retain them and they reasonably suspect it's due to unusually high health insurance costs, they will sue and win. Thus, few employers would accept this plan. We'd have to break the ties between employment and insurance for anything much more sophisticated than a "one size fits all" pricing model to reach the majority of Americans.

* My insurance company doesn't trust me, and I don't trust them. They would need a way of deciding if I'm telling the truth or not about being a vegetarian/smoker, without lawsuit-worthy false results or tests that potentially give them answers to other questions they have no business asking. (E.g., no DNA, or they will abuse it to look around in my genome for preexisting conditions.)
 
 
Jul 28, 2009
Ok, apparently this thing doesn't like URL's in posts. Anybody know how to post links on here without them being wiped?

 
 
Jul 28, 2009
Here is a rebuttal to the flawed "vegan > meat" conclusion from the China study: !$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$% bottom line is vegans need much firmer ground to stand on when arguing that health insurance rates for meat eaters should be higher than theirs.
 
 
 
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