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Mike Strobbe of AP from NY, in his report today 1/26/13, starts his story with these lines,
Faced with the high cost of caring for smokers and overeaters, experts say society must grapple with a blunt question: Instead of trying to penalize them and change their ways, why not just let these health sinners die prematurely from their unhealthy habits?
He quotes the costs as;
$96 billion a year for smokers – 1 in 5 smoke
$147 billion a year for the obese – 1 in 3 are obese
With the failure of California’s increased tax on cigarettes and the backlash about the nanny state in NYC with the attempt to eliminate high capacity soft drinks it seems it might be easier to just tax them for their freedoms.
“Your freedom is likely to be someone else’s harm,” said Daniel Callahan, senior research scholar at a bioethics think-tank, the Hastings Center.
“When you ban smoking in public places, you’re protecting everyone’s health, including and especially the nonsmoker,” said S. Jay Olshansky, a professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s School of Public Health.
It can be harder to make the same argument about soda-size restrictions or other legislative attempts to discourage excessive calorie consumption, Olshansky added. “When you eat yourself to death, you’re pretty much just harming yourself,” he said.
But that viewpoint doesn’t factor in the burden to everyone else of paying for the diabetes care, heart surgeries and other medical expenses incurred by obese people, noted John Cawley, a health economist at Cornell University.
“If I’m obese, the health care costs are not totally borne by me. They’re borne by other people in my health insurance plan and — when I’m older — by Medicare,” Cawley said.
From an economists perspective anyone who participates in “unhealthy” actions should pay more. The same logic is put into practice in the Affordable Care Act. Next year, it allows insurance companies to charge a smoker that buys an individual policy. (not group policies as I understand it) A 50% surcharge for smokers may apply.
However the real elephant in the room as it were, the obese, get a free ride, for now… just wait your turn. I’m sure with fewer doctors practicing, we will all have to get used to that philosophy, just waiting our turn.
Callahan was further quoted as saying;
National obesity rates are essentially static, and public health campaigns that gently try to educate people about the benefits of exercise and healthy eating just aren’t working, Callahan argued. We need to get obese people to change their behavior. If they are angry or hurt by it, so be it, he said.
“Emotions are what really count in this world.”
Just wait the day is coming when you actually will be turned down on your pizza order, because your health care provider has restricted your menu availability. Suggestion, try the salad bar instead, it’s better for you and more appropriate for the grazers we seem to have become in this nation.