Last year a Dutch study was published in the Public Library of Science Medicine journal that claimed the average healthcare costs for a smoker from age 20 until death was $326,000.  The average cost for a healthy non-smoker from 20 to death was $417,000.  That means being healthy costs $91,000 more of the extent of your life!  Crazy Dutch, what do they know?

As crazy as those pot-smoking Europeans are, they are onto something.  The explanation is simple: people who smoke die sooner.  Dying on average of 10 years before their non-smoking counterparts reduces the healthcare burden on governments and insurance companies.  Why die of old age after 15 years of skin cancer and surviving prostate cancer when you can just die of a bad case of lung cancer?

To be honest this is welcome news.  Many of you remember my pros and cons of universal healthcare.  In the end of Universal Healthcare Week I sided with private healthcare in support of major reform.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t secretly want a universal program to work.  In fact I would want a universal program to work.

One of the reasons I didn’t like universal healthcare was that healthy people like me would have to support unhealthy people.  I’ve got a friend with a pacemaker, and would have no problem helping pay for her healthcare.  But I’ve also got friends who smoke, and I don’t want to pay for theirs.  Smokers willingly destroy their bodies.

What I’d never considered before is that you smokers hurt yourselves so much you actually save money in the long run on healthcare.  Imagine a world where the government pays for your gas.  I’m a careful driver and over my life cost the government $75,000 in gas.  You are a terrible driver and get yourself killed at 58 years old.  Since you died you no longer need the gas, you only cost the government $60,000 in gas.

So in a world that is slowly moving towards universal healthcare, this is at least one strike off the list of reasons I’m against it.  Don’t worry though, my lack in trust of government funded programs will keep me against it for a long time to come.

This isn’t me supporting smoking be any stretch.  Since we’re on the subject of it though I’ll throw in my opinions of smoking.  Smoking is disgusting, there is not one single appealing factor to smoking, and it makes you stink.  Non-smokers smell it on you constantly and talk about it when you’re not around.  The last person to look cool with a cigarette was James Dean, that was over a half-century ago.  Everyone has a right to destroy their own body.  Tobacco remains an important contributor to the American economy, and brings a lot of money in from other economies (big in Asia and Europe).  I don’t mind if someone smokes, just don’t do it around non-smokers and have the courtesy not to do it in public places like restaurants.  You ruin the experience for the rest of us.

Read about the study that says smokers may not be a financial burden to society.

Photo: yann!es

categories: economics, government