It Is Not Penny Wise to Prevent Obesity and Smoking
Obese people as well smokers cost the exchequer less compared to thin and healthy people. Healthy people live longer and more money has to be spent by health care providers. Obese people do not live longer, so the cost on their health is much less. Even smokers lead a short life. This was observed in a study led by Pieter van Baal, an economist at the National Institute for Public Health and Environment, Netherlands.
Is Treating Obese and Smokers Cheaper?
Living longer costs the health system more money. Dutch researchers in a paper published online in the journal of Public Library of Science Medical Journal observed that the health costs of the thin and healthy people was more expensive than that spent on obese and smokers. This was based upon the “cost of illness” data and disease prevalent in 2003 in Netherlands (source).
Obese and smokers, in 2003, did incur heavy expenditure in terms of health costs, but since they died early, the treatment costs did not have to be incurred for a longer duration. Smokers and obese people suffered more from heart diseases as compared to healthy people. Healthy suffered more strokes. Cancer, except lung cancer, was prevalent in all the three. Despite these bare facts, thin and healthy people incurred more expenditure.
The cost for thin and healthy people was $417,000 (from age 20 onwards), whereas obese people and smokers cost $371,000 and $ 326,000 respectively.
The health system does not save pennies by preventing obesity and smoking. In fact, it costs more, as more money has to be spent on treating thin and healthy people for a longer period of time. Preventing obesity and smoking should be for better reasons, rather than for merely saving pennies.