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Dollars to Donuts

2007-07-13 14:01:55.201847+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

Since we're talking about healthcare: Hoover Institute: Dollars to Donuts, examining healthcare and obesity from the Homer Simpson perspective. Among other things it notes that the obesity wage gap seems to roughly parallel the additional healthcare costs incurred by being overweight.

[ related topics: Health Work, productivity and environment Economics ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-07-13 17:11:42.958832+00 by: ebradway

That's almost scary... Will the President declare a War on Fat?

What is missing from the analysis is any attempt to explain the causes of obesity. The only cause that is explored is health insurance pooling - i.e., pooled health insurance doesn't provide the monetary incentive to lose weight that one might get from having to pay one's own medical bills.

Obesity, much like poverty, derives from a complex of causes. Maybe there is a genetic predisposition. Maybe there are overwhelming psychological causes. Maybe the person was never taught how to eat well.

This strikes at one of my biggest beefs with Conservatives and Libertarians. It's this idea that one should have the moral character to make the right decisions. That making wrong decisions - like eating a Big Mac, smoking crack, living on Welfare - are purely symptoms of a weak constitution and that the people with strong moral character and strong constitutions shouldn't have to support those lower beings through their taxes. Or if they are supported, they should be whipped into shape through a series of boot-camps and masochistic impositions of discipline.

You can see this clearest in the Conservatives' War on Drugs. The idea of providing psychological assistance to help discourage drug use isn't really even given a fair shake. Whereas locking away drug users as hardened criminals or preaching strict abstinence (D.A.R.E.) continues as standard practice even when those practices are measurably unsuccessful.

But I'm going to leave it there because I have to ride my bike to get a salad before getting to work on some code. Or maybe I should just order in a pizza and a dozen doughnuts...

#Comment Re: made: 2007-07-13 21:33:43.301818+00 by: dexev


Did you read the entire article? The authors aren't claiming that pooled insurance is a 'cause' of obesity. Indeed, they don't go into the causes of obesity at all, other than to mention that people have different beliefs about it.

The article tries to determine who pays for the additional medical expenses of obese people. Using wage data for a cohort of obese and non-obese people, they determine that obese people pay most of these costs themselves. They note that this may also be true for decreased efficiency and increased workers' comp. claims. They conclude that there are no 'social costs' of obesity to the non-obese, and therefore one less reason to favor fat taxes or other coercive mechanisms.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-07-14 00:55:03.836321+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

http://www.hoover.org/publications/digest/3459466.html -- another one you may be interested in. Milton Friedman pointing out that involving a third-party in the health-care transaction means it is gonna be more expensive.