LONDON - Preventing obesity and smoking can save lives, but it doesn't save money, researchers reported Monday. It costs more to care for healthy people who live years longer, according to a Dutch study that counters the common perception that preventing obesity would save governments millions of dollars.I'm thinking if you're using hospitals all that much, you're probably not "healthy." Just thin. But, whatever.
"It was a small surprise," said Pieter van Baal, an economist at the Netherlands' National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, who led the study. "But it also makes sense. If you live longer, then you cost the health system more."
In a paper published online Monday in the Public Library of Science Medicine journal, Dutch researchers found that the health costs of thin and healthy people in adulthood are more expensive than those of either fat people or smokers.
They also found that fat people live an average of 80 years, compared to 84 for thin people who don't die of cancer or drunk drivers or stray bullets or jogging. I consider four years a small price to pay for occasionally piercing my endless boredom with frozen custard, but this is an individual choice--I'm pretty much just waiting for God these days--so feel free to disagree. Just don't feel free to legislate my choice away, dammit!
Now, the claim that diabetes is costing Medicaid/Medicare so much money, I believe that--because the problems are incentives. People don't control their diabetes with diet and exercise if they get free drugs (this is a problem for people with employer-provided insurance, too); people don't pursue full employment if they think they'll lose their free drugs if they get a better job; similarly, people don't save for their futures if they think someone else will pay their way; and finally the whole Medicaid/Medicare system is so wicked INEFFICIENT and bureaucratic...
(I'm labeling this post "fascism" because nationalized health care is. Aside: I finished Jonah's book if anyone wants to borrow my unsigned copy.)