So should governments encourage people to eat twinkies and smoke?
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.
”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.”
And this really brings into sharp relief an interesting point about turning the responsibility over health care to a government. While the initial jabber about universal healthcare is how wonderful it will be that no one has to worry about getting sick because the all-knowing Big Brother will take care of everyone – once you screw up the system and get government running it, the focus becomes COST! As in – holy crap this free health care costs tons of money. And if we only have 25% of the population carrying everybody else, the productive ones will finally balk.
So it becomes a cost-benefit analysis – as in just how much cost can we shave off these silly people who are going to die anyway in order to keep the productive ones happy. And government bureaucrats are really good at a) screwing over people who aren’t government bureaucrats and b) responding to political pressure. So whoever screams the loudest gets the health care and the peasants are sent off to watch TV and die quietly in the corner.
Which this interesting little snippet in the story illustrates:
”This throws a bucket of cold water onto the idea that obesity is going to cost trillions of dollars,” said Patrick Basham, a professor of health politics at Johns Hopkins University who was unconnected to the study. He said that government projections about obesity costs are frequently based on guesswork, political agendas, and changing science.