For many years, those of us who indulge ourselves in our pleasures have pointed out that we pay a fuck-load of tax for the pleasure of doing so—not just in the ludicrously high National Insurance payments, but also duty on the fags and booze. We pay far more in tax, in fact, than the cost to the NHS.
"Nonsense!" cry the prodnose temperance loons.
Well, now a nice little report has come out which points out that "healthy" people really do cost, as Timmy reports.
The question is, are the costs of treating the illnesses and deaths brought on by those three indulgences higher or lower than the costs of treating those who live healthily but still inevitably die? We could argue it either way: Alzheimer’s costs more to manage than lung cancer costs, the cracked hips of age related osteoporosis perhaps more or less than fried livers from excessive bourbon. What we need to do is actually go and tot up the figures. Fortunately, that has been done:Obesity is a major cause of morbidity and mortality and is associated with high medical expenditures. It has been suggested that obesity prevention could result in cost savings. The objective of this study was to estimate the annual and lifetime medical costs attributable to obesity, to compare those to similar costs attributable to smoking, and to discuss the implications for prevention.
Although effective obesity prevention leads to a decrease in costs of obesity-related diseases, this decrease is offset by cost increases due to diseases unrelated to obesity in life-years gained. Obesity prevention may be an important and cost-effective way of improving public health, but it is not a cure for increasing health expenditures.
The actual numbers for lifetime from 20 years old medical costs were:
The lifetime costs were in Euros:Healthy: 281,000
There are excellent arguments in favour of taxing in order to reduce the occurrence of smoking, excessive boozing and obesity. We humans are subject to hyperbolic discounting, not taking full account of long distant future costs for current pleasures, sometimes those running the public health system really do know more than us, there are externalities associated with these behaviours (late night drunks, passive smoking and the visual pollution of someone 300 lbs overweight perhaps). But the argument we cannot use is that these behaviours increase the costs of health care.
The reason we cannot use this argument is that it simply isn’t true.
So all you health fascists can stick that in your pipe and I'll smoke it.