What’s your basis for believing that society bears a higher overall financial cost for obesity?I wish I had simply said "there's reason to speculate that." An error of enthusiasm, one that I would not expect to get clobbered on if I were talking with folks committed to good-faith inquiry.
Since it limits lifespan, there’s plenty of reason to believe that a taxpaying and bill-paying society benefits financially from letting people made bad health choices and die sooner. That thins the herd, and preserves sparse resources for things like medicare and social security. Thereby financially benefitting those who make the allegedly wiser health choices.
This post will almost certainly be revised to add more stuff later. But I look forward to hearing from folks as soon as they have time and feel like it.
UPDATE: I'll try my best to summarize my lines of thought and some of the relevant questions that I wonder about on this issue.
At base, we're talking about what personal failures might legitimately justify paternalistic intervention by, say the government, or maybe an insurance company. That's a very broad and fundamental question. And obviously, even though lots of us don't like the idea, we know that it has been happening for a long time in areas of broad cultural agreement (you go to jail for your habit of violence, you may pay higher insurance rates for a poor driving record, and so on).
What we also know is that such intervention is slowly but surely seeping into areas where there isn't nearly as broad a cultural agreement on right and wrong and fairness of penalty.
Miscellaneous random questions and concerns, numbered for ease of reference:
1. How far down that road do we want to keep going?
2. When do me mistake petty resentment for moral rectitude?
3. Are we counting everything? If not, what is the basis for counting within a more limited domain?
4. Do all people who make bad health choices incur higher medical costs that are subsidized by folks who make "good" choice? Or Only some. If only some, which ones?
5. What is the difference in average "end of life" costs for a "good chooser" versus a "bad chooser?"
6. How much more, annually, does it cost taxpayers in social security costs for every additional year of lifespan?
7. In general, do good health efforts undertaken by employers and health insurers increase or decrease total healthcare costs? Which ones?
8. Which cost figures should we use when we try to perform such calculus? For example, if the list price of an MRI is, I dunno, $900 but insurers only pay $590, how should we do the math?
8. Should good health efforts be pursued further only on the basis of cost savings, or should they be pursued simply as a matter of moral rectitude?
That's probably more than enough. I should be upfront, that my basic bias here is a visceral reluctance to go much further down a road where more and more of our private human behavior is scrutinized, judged, and affixed with a dollar figure of penalty or reward. It seems like a fools errand, like it will lead to a more unpleasant, more exhausting world where our real choices are ever more constrained. I see a sort of a statist business-government beast that won't actually deliver healthier happier more prosperous people, but will still crawl up our arses at every opportunity.