I read this brief little tidbit on neat-o-rama (www.neatorama.com), but I hadn't had the chance to really follow up with it:
Fat People, Smokers Cheaper to Treat
(Washington Post Reprint of an AP story here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/05/AR2008020502507.html)
A study out of the Netherlands finds that, based on life expectancy of "healthy people" (84 years) vs "obese people" (80 years) vs "smokers" (77 years) -- it actually costs the health system $40,000+ to care for "healthy people." The study, mind you, is very limited and limited to a universal healthcare state (ie, one where the entire society is bearing the burden of the cost for treatment), found that, over the course of life, "healthy people" cost $417,000 to treat, "obese people" cost $371,000, and "smokers" cost $326,000.
A couple of questions that I would like to see the original study for:
1) Is there a break down for the relative Body Mass Indeces (BMI's) per cost? For example, do you assign a dollar amount or year amount for every point of BMI you gain or lose?
2) How much smoking are we talking about here? What about on-again, off-again smokers?
3) And does this study become prescriptive and suggest genocide for the elderly to save us all a buck? You know, buying your final resting place during the government's final solution.
4) Additionally, was it polite to place the judgment-laden word "FAT" in the title of the AP article? I mean really. I think it should be entitled "Chubby Chasers Rejoice: Your Lover Won't Cost You Much." Western Journalism at its best.
Regardless, I think it's fun, because AS a smoker (on my worst days, one pack a day; on my best... well, one pack a day), and AS an "obese" person (despite recent weight losses, my BMI is hovering around 30.1 ... 0.1 over the "obese" line), it's nice to know that, in the long run, I am as cheap as everyone says I am. (What's real fun, is that, if I worked just my main job, it would take me 12 years of my ENTIRE SALARY -- no taxes, no expenses -- to pay off my medical bills, assuming they label me primarily as a "smoker" and not a "fattie fat fattie")