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View Diary: The Insufferable Innumeracy of Jonah Goldberg (57 comments)

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  •  Why should smokers pay more? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radmul

    A 26 year old smoker is no more likely to use medical services than a 26 year old non-smoker. In fact, the smoker may use less because nicotine is an excellent appetite suppressant and the smoker will weigh less, and in some ways, be healthier than the non-smoker.

    Smoking's effects are cumulative and long-term. You could convincingly argue that a 50 year old smoker that has smoked for decades will begin exhibiting effects, and that by 70, the effects may be dramatic. But earlier than that, there is really no reason to charge smokers more for health insurance.

    A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

    by edg on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 12:24:48 PM PDT

    •  As a tax on stupidity (8+ / 0-)

      The health issues are well known, any young person choosing to be a smoker is an idiot.

      •  Isn't early death enough of a tax? n/t (0+ / 0-)

        A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

        by edg on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 01:27:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How about the other, very serious, (6+ / 0-)

          and very expensive health consequences?  No let's ignore those.

          With the Decision Points Theater, the George W. Bush Presidential Library becomes the very first Presidential Library to feature a Fiction Section.

          by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 01:54:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Who's ignoring them? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            radmul, codairem

            The negative health effects of long-term smoking are well documented. Including early death, on average 7 years earlier than non-smokers. Thus saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in Social Security and Medicare payouts per smoker. Less any increased expenses at the end-of-7-year-shorter-life, of course.

            You're not going to win this argument on financial terms because the math is against you.

            A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

            by edg on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 04:12:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Even presuming that your (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MPociask, wishingwell

              presumptions regarding the actual health costs of smoking are accurate (which I do not necessarily accept.  Show me data), your comment is based on the faulty premise that health insurance premiums should be based on the socialized cost of a practice.  In fact, the premise behind charging smokers more is because their health care costs are higher than those of non-smokers.  Your premise brings other factors (the "benefit" to society of their earlier death) into the cost equation.  While that might calculate the overall costs to society, it does not calculate the cost of their health care.  Should we charge less for heath insurance to people whose genetic background indicates that they will live shorter lives?  That is the logical conclusion of your faulty premise.

              With the Decision Points Theater, the George W. Bush Presidential Library becomes the very first Presidential Library to feature a Fiction Section.

              by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 02:25:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  And as my husband discovered when in the Quit (0+ / 0-)

                for Life, a big incentive for a lot of smokers to quit is the savings in money in not just the purchase of tobacco products but that many companies charge a smoker more for health coverage. And smokers who quit and go through these type of programs, are finding their insurance premiums decreasing because they are now ex smokers.

                My husband and I went through this program, he finished, I am still mid way through and they talked about as soon as we complete this program, they can send the report to the employer and he will get more money in his paycheck as of a certain date.

                So financial reasons can be an incentive reason for not smoking, no matter the person's age and we found out it is a rather big incentive not to smoke or quit when young . As often the younger one is and just finishing college, the less money they have in their pocket with often having to take entry level jobs or low wage jobs to start with. And middle aged folks like us are finding ourselves having to work for less as well paying jobs can be scarce no matter how old we are. And saving money is saving money and  a big incentive. As a smoker can save 2 ways...through not paying the expensive tobacco products and saving money with their insurance premiums.

                Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

                by wishingwell on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 07:30:09 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I suppose (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MPociask, wishingwell

            hse wants us to provide the costs for dying of cancer caused by smoking.
            Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, hospital care, nursing home care, palliative care.
            I'm pretty sure those are at least as much as they think they'd 'save' by paying the same as non-smokers.

            BTW, a supervisor where I worked was a chain smoker, at least a pack a day. She got a sore throat that didn't go away. It was cancer, and it had already spread. Got into her spine. She took a disability retirement and died a few months later.

            (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

            by PJEvans on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 10:12:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  this could well apply to any number of activities. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        edg, codairem

        "The health issues are well known, any young person choosing to be a smoker is an idiot."

        drinking, driving, living in a crowded city, engaging in dangerous sports, owning guns, etc., etc., etc. in fact, these listed activities have a much higher current probability of causing you harm/killing you, than smoking does. i'm not going to argue that smoking is either good, or not bad for you, that would be ridiculous, and no one with any common sense would assert that. however, the claim, by everyone, including health insurance companies, that smoking, alone among all human activities, is somehow more dangerous than any of the others stands without empirical basis supporting it. there are no peer reviewed studies to base this claim on, it's simply more socially acceptable to penalize smokers alone, for their risky activity.

        •  Auto insurance and home insurance does vary (0+ / 0-)

          according to where one lives. For instance, we got a discount on renters insurance when we moved to a townhouse that is closer to a fire hydrant than where we lived before and a place that is half brick vs a place that was not.

          Auto insurance premiums vary according to where one lives as we also found out when moving from a small city to a small college town.  They said it is rated according to the number of auto thefts, vandalism, and accidents in a particular county and so on.

          So there are other insurances that charge varying and higher premiums for some of those things you describe like where one lives and in what structure one resides and so on.

          So to me, health insurance is not much different than my auto insurance which charged me more when I lived in a small city than in a small town and charged me more for home insurance because of how close I lived to a fire hydrant and what my building was made of.

          Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

          by wishingwell on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 07:37:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The additional costs are amortized over time (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      orson, Nowhere Man, wishingwell

      Much like the way most people don't lay down $249,999.99 in cash for a new home, they spread the cost out over several years.

      •  But (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Quicklund

        Smokers die 7 years sooner on average than non-smokers. Thus saving hundreds of thousands in SS and Medicare costs per smoker. Not to mention many thousands of dollars in cigarette taxes paid. Offset against any increases in healthcare costs, I'd wager society comes out ahead financially while smokers lose in several ways.

        A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

        by edg on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 08:06:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You advance a reasonable hypothesis (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wishingwell

          It might well be true. But it might not be true also. In either case that is the sort of modification that will probably become a common suggestion as the system gains experience.

        •  While there is a savings on soc security and (0+ / 0-)

          medicare for those people, that has nothing to do with our private insurance based system. That would only really pertain to those who are diagnosed and treated for smoking related diseases while on medicaid or medicare, would it not?  As private insurance premium costs are not connected to those federal companies even though I wish there was more connection and single payer.  As medicare does not charge higher premiums because one is a smoker, right ? But insurance companies can and will often do so.   That is because insurance companies are not a medicare program...and private, I would think?

          Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

          by wishingwell on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 07:40:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not following. (0+ / 0-)

            My comment was based on the diarists statement that "Oddly, he seems to deride the notion that smokers should pay more than non-smokers."

            A 26 year old smoker costs no more in medical care than a 26 year old non-smoker. But private individual health insurance costs more for smokers.

            A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

            by edg on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 10:36:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Remember that end of life care (0+ / 0-)

          can cost several hundreds of thousands over just a few weeks.

          I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

          by CFAmick on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 09:55:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Remember statistics? (0+ / 0-)

            Twenty-five percent of smokers die before age 50, but only 7% of smokers develop lung cancer. The life expectancy for a smoker in the US is 64 years, or 14 years shorter than non-smokers.

            Also, heart attacks and strokes kill more smokers than all cancers combined and far faster with less cost.

            I repeat: Trying to make a financial case against smoking is a fool's errand. There are many good reasons to eradicate smoking. A phony baloney reason based on medical economics is both false and unneeded.

            A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

            by edg on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 10:29:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  To pay the additional cost (0+ / 0-)

      of long term health care for non-smokers.

      That's right. Smokers die on average 10 years earlier, and have lower lifetime health costs.  There are actuarial tables that back this up.

      That's why basing everything on monetary cost is a bad idea.  

      Economic Left/Right: -7.38
      Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.00
      Two steps to the right of Trotsky.

      by jvance on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 09:16:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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