Please turn on JavaScript

Brooks Wilson's Economics Blog: Engber on Obesity

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Engber on Obesity

Thank you Daniel Engber of Slate for writing with sense about obesity and funding health care.  In "No, Fat People Won't Pay for Health Care Reform," he describes the problem of misplaced blame, and then provides evidence that fat people are not to blame for rising health care cost.
In recent days, the health care debate has shifted back to an idea that's been kicking around since Barack Obama first started talking about universal coverage on the campaign trail: Let's stick fatties with the tab. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spoke out (again) this week in favor of a national tax on sugary drinks to fight the obesity epidemic and raise federal revenue. The Los Angeles Times spelled things out: "Tough love for fat people: Tax their food to pay for healthcare."

The recent push comes in the wake of a report published Monday in Health Affairs that purports to compute the annual medical spending attributable to obesity. According to author Eric A. Finkelstein, "obesity is the single biggest reason for the increase in health care costs" in the United States, contributing $147 billion to our national tab in 2008. A similar study from a few weeks ago pinned California's budget problems on the $41 billion cost of "obesity and inactivity.") Predictably, media outlets have jumped on the story...

The fact is, fat people aren't breaking the bank at all—they're saving us money. While it's true that someone who's grossly overweight might rack up bills for obesity-related ailments like diabetes and hypertension, those added costs would be more than offset by his shorter lifespan. The rest of us tend to suck more resources over the duration of our slim and fruitful lives on account of all the expensive degenerative diseases we develop in our bonus years. That's not to say we shouldn't try to prevent obesity. But let's stop pretending it's a reasonable way to pay for health care reform.
Engber provides support for his argument in an earlier article, "Abolish the Fat Tax!."  It is a good read as well.
Replace this text with...

No comments:

Post a Comment