Thursday, February 7, 2008

obesity and smoking helps the health care system?


Turns out I might have had a misplaced concern about the stress placed by smokers and the obese on our already broken health care system. According to some recent studies "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 which that counters the common perception that preventing obesity would save governments millions of dollars"
Now, this really does make sense when you think about it, those of use who practice healthy eating, not smoking and other healthy habits, like exercise are going to live long and thus over time cost the health system more.
you can read about the study here Fat People Cheaper to Treat, Study Says
However, I think there are lots of costs that the study did not consider, just to think of a few, like for example, the cost of updating beds and hospital floors to account for heavier people, doctors being tied up taking care of obesity-related illnesses, etc.

And the data seems to have been obtained rather simplistically, just by dividing cost by the number of years, obese people are cheaper. Dead people are very low maintenance! If the higher cost of healthy people is truly just because they live longer, then that should be reflected in a year-by-year cost. I still find it difficult to believe that a healthy person who suddenly drops dead at 90 would be more expensive than someone who lives the last 20 years of his/her life with diabetes, heart disease, possible amputations, etc.etc. or the cost of gastric bypass and/or the correction of failed gastric bypass.



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