Sunday, 11 January 2009

US: Universal healthcare and the waistline police

Imagine a country where the government regularly checks the waistlines of citizens over age 40. Anyone deemed too fat would be required to undergo diet counseling. Those who fail to lose sufficient weight could face further "reeducation" and their communities subject to stiff fines.

Is this some nightmarish dystopia?

No, this is contemporary Japan.

The Japanese government argues that it must regulate citizens' lifestyles because it is paying their health costs. This highlights one of the greatly underappreciated dangers of "universal healthcare." Any government that attempts to guarantee healthcare must also control its costs. The inevitable next step will be to seek to control citizens' health and their behavior. Hence, Americans should beware that if we adopt universal healthcare, we also risk creating a "nanny state on steroids" antithetical to core American principles.

1 comment:

Sobers said...

I came up with the idea a while back that tax rates should be inversely linked to our BMIs. That there should be a basic (high level) tax rate, and rebate levels below that you can only get if you have a medical and get a doctor to certify that your BMI is in the specified range.

A bit broad brush I know (before people start on about athlete's BMIs!) but would focus peoples mind in the best way possible - in the wallet. If you knew you could get 5, 10, 15% off your tax bill by losing weight, would that not give you a good incentive? Plus there could be different rates for smokers/drug users too. Ie whatever your weight, if you could prove via tests that you hadn't smoked or taken illegal drugs in the last year, you'd get a tax rebate.