Smokers, Fatties Cheaper to Treat?

Dutch researchers have come up with the somewhat startling conclusion that, contrary to popular belief, people who smoke or are obese cost the healthcare system less than those who are healthy. But a closer look at the study reveals a perfectly rational explanation for the

84%Percentage of physicians who report being in very good or excellent health.(ScienceDaily, 2008)

Dutch researchers have come up with the somewhat startling conclusion that, contrary to popular belief, people who smoke or are obese cost the healthcare system less than those who are healthy. But a closer look at the study reveals a perfectly rational explanation for the apparent anomaly—healthy people live longer. Over their longer lifespan, more money is spent on healthcare for healthy people than on smokers and fat people, who tend to die earlier.

Healthy people, on average, live seven years longer than smokers and four years longer than those who are obese and those extra years add up to more healthcare dollars spent. According to the study, the average total cost of care for healthy people from age 20 on was $417,000, about 20% more than the amount spent on smokers and 12% more than on obese people. In terms of diseases, smokers were more likely to get lung cancer, obese people were more prone to develop diabetes, and healthy people had more strokes.

“The greatest wealth is health.”—Virgil