Smoking and Obesity – a Boon to Saving Health Care Costs?

In a refreshing breath of academic honesty, a study debunks the nanny state myth that smoking and obesity increase government health care costs.  So it may be time to dispense with this oft repeated myth.  A myth that has long been used as a major justification for governments’ intrusions into these health aspects.    

This should have been simple common sense, but unfortunately common sense just doesn’t work with bureaucracies hell bent on arbitrarily stamping out things they don’t like.  So a formal study was required.  The not-so-surprising findings and conclusions?  Smokers and the obese die earlier and thus have far less overall lifetime health care costs than the otherwise “healthy.”  Moreover, smokers actually provide the added government “benefit” of paying extra taxes. 

Of course, as anyone who has ever watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” knows (“Zuzu’s Petals!”), when a person dies early (or as in the movie, ceases to exist) there are actually costs that are intangible, difficult to quantify, or impossible to know, so purely looking at lifetime health care costs in itself may not be a true measure of overall cost; but it is at least a start down the road of academic honesty.  An honesty that is sorely needed as governments seek to regulate more and more aspects of peoples’ private lives and behaviors.

Keeping Health Care Costs Down (Part I)Keeping Health Care Costs Down (Part II)


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