Slimming Down US Won't Cut Health Costs

Or reject 'collectivist thinking' and let people make own choices
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2009 2:00 PM CDT
An overweight person on a tiny motorcycle.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The Obama administration claims the anti-obesity bent of its health care plan will lower overall costs by making America thinner. “It won’t,” Jacob Sullum writes in Reason. Even if the government succeeds in slimming down the US—unlikely in Sullum’s opinion—the longer-lived result will actually increase health care costs. And in any case, “we should be wary of a political theory that says taxpayer-funded health care makes everyone's personal habits everyone else's business.”

If people stop dying early from obesity, they’re wide open for a host of other, unrelated illnesses. “Overeating, like smoking, seems to be one of those risky habits that saves taxpayers money,” writes Sullum. If we're simply out to save costs, encourage these behaviors. “Or maybe we should question the idea that every citizen is a cost to be minimized for the greater good, without regard to his own wishes.”