The AP has set off a powder keg with a recent analysis of the death rates of smokers and the obese. With the president’s massive regulatory nightmare (ObamaCare) being implemented, the predicted conversation about just how much we want to spend on keeping people alive is taking place. And the first targets appear to be smokers and overweight people.
Annual health care costs are roughly $96 billion for smokers and $147 billion for the obese, the government says. These costs accompany sometimes heroic attempts to prolong lives, including surgery, chemotherapy and other measures.
But despite these rescue attempts, smokers tend to die 10 years earlier on average, and the obese die five to 12 years prematurely, according to various researchers’ estimates.
And attempts to curb smoking and unhealthy eating frequently lead to backlash: Witness the current legal tussle over New York City’s first-of-its-kind limits on the size of sugary beverages and the vicious fight last year in California over a ballot proposal to add another $1-per-pack cigarette tax, which was ultimately defeated.
“This is my life. I should be able to do what I want,” said Sebastian Lopez, a college student from Queens, speaking last September when the New York City Board of Health approved the soda size rules.
And so you can see this coming, can’t you? The AP puts it into print:
Faced with the high cost of caring for smokers and overeaters, experts say society must grapple with a chilling question. The Associated Press summarizes: “Instead of trying to penalize them and change their ways, why not just let these health sinners die?”
This conclusion would be one thing if we still had a free market healthcare system. In other words, people would know that risky health behaviors would likely lead to the need for them to spend more on their own health measures. They could plan accordingly. But now, with healthcare costs “managed” by the government, they won’t get to make the decision as to how much they spend on their healthcare. Now, in the perfect liberal dream, the government will now get to deprive those who make what the government deems as “unhealthy choices” of medical care.
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Nice, isn’t it? It’s one thing when Mayor Bloomberg passes a law that forbids the sale of large cokes. It’s quite another when the government tells you that if you let yourself get obese, you will be denied healthcare...because it just can’t be afforded. We’re not there yet, of course. But we’re getting there.
And how will it be justified? Here’s how:
“When you eat yourself to death, you’re pretty much just harming yourself,” S. Jay Olshansky, a professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s School of Public Health, said.
But that viewpoint doesn’t factor in the burden to everyone else of paying for the diabetes care, heart surgeries and other medical expenses incurred by obese people, John Cawley, a health economist at Cornell University, noted.
“If I’m obese, the health care costs are not totally borne by me. They’re borne by other people in my health insurance plan and – when I’m older – by Medicare,” Cawley said.
So there it is. Exactly what President Obama said to the woman at his townhall meeting all those years ago when she asked about her elderly mom getting a pacemaker: she should probably just get a pain pill instead. Government becomes god.
So let me pose a question to my liberal friends who think this is such a great idea. Can we do the same thing with homosexuality? Engaging in risky sexual behavior like homosexuality is clearly a health hazard – far worse than smoking and overeating according to statistics provided by our government’s own Center for Disease Control.
So how about this: those who choose to engage in sexual behaviors we know to result in serious and rampant sexually transmitted diseases should not receive expensive antibiotic treatments? Given the fact that scientists are now beginning to worry about antibiotic-resistant strains of these diseases emerging anyway, we could really cut costs to the population by cutting these folks off, couldn’t we? No one can argue that sexual behavior is necessary like eating and drinking is. So it seems even more logical to start there. And the costs of treating those sexual diseases are easily as much as cigarette-related infirmities, no?
I can only imagine the outrage that would be generated by the left if someone proposed this in the public square. For some reason the same political movement that wants to control everyone’s digestive and respiratory systems feels that the reproductive system is sacrosanct. Utter hypocritical nonsense.