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Health insurance debate could focus on junk food taxes

Posted On Thu, September 10, 2009

While the debate over health insurance reforms continues, many Americans are taking sides over whether future changes should include taxes on soda and sugar-filled snacks.

Various proposals for the healthcare debate have included fines for those who fail to purchase coverage as well as taxes on the highest-end insurance policies. The idea of a tax on sweets and soda is politically unpopular, but may also be driven by the need to pay for the proposed reforms.

This is especially the case in light of recent reports showing that obesity adds billions of dollars in extra costs to the healthcare system in the form of added treatments and aggravated medical conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.

A Reuters report notes that some cities and states are even eyeing junk food taxes as way to help close growing budget deficits. The wire service also cites government statistics suggesting that a 3-cent tax on each can of soda sold could raise $50 billion in revenues over the course of a decade.

While things like cigarettes and alcohol have long been taxed, it remains to be seen if lawmakers would prove willing to enact the same policies on junk foods because of the burden all of these products add to health insurance policies and the overall systems.

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