8 thoughts on “Healthy lives cost money”

  1. Posted 13/04/2017 at 13:14 | Permalink

    If Christopher Snowdon would like to do some research, he would find that there are conflicting studies on this subject. Not all support his assertions.

    Although there has been a rise in healthcare spending, it is wrong to imply that this is all caused by greater longevity. Much if it is caused simply by the fact that we can do more at any age to treat a range of conditions and due to the law of diminishing returns – we now expensively treat many quite rare conditions that previously people would have had to live with and we keep far more premature babies alive, for example. He also mentions greater care requirements and cost for older people but neglects to mention that retirement ages are also increasing. Many people now go through their working lives with chronic conditions caused by lifestyle factors that have to be expensively treated – most diabetes treatment falls into this category, for example.

    He also doesn’t account for the fact that many conditions caused by lifestyle lower the productivity of the workforce well before people retire and premature deaths and illness increase the burden on the state when the state has to pay for the dependents of the deceased or ill.

    The picture is much more complicated than he acknowledges.

  2. Posted 13/04/2017 at 13:45 | Permalink

    I should add, that even if you accept Christopher Snowdon’s argument, he is only looking at one part of the whole picture – healthcare and other costs of living longer. What he fails to consider is the contributions people make to the wealth needed to pay for these things, which, there is plenty of evidence to suggest, are lower from those with unhealthy lifestyles.

    There is an article on this here: https://njaes.rutgers.edu/healthfinance/health-behaviors.asp

  3. Posted 13/04/2017 at 16:19 | Permalink

    The costs of lost earnings fall on the individual. I’m looking at the costs to the government. The other points above are addressed at length in this discussion paper: https://iea.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Death%20and%20Taxes%20December%202015.pdf Whilst there are bound to be some long term conditions that are costly to treat, eg. diabetes, on balance the costs associated with longevity are greater than the savings, not only to the health service but more significantly to the welfare system.

  4. Posted 14/04/2017 at 10:28 | Permalink

    Nonsense HJ. If you live longer you draw more pension and cost the NHS more in general illnesses, medicines, bad eyesight, hearing loss, dental care, statins etc etc.

  5. Posted 15/04/2017 at 20:15 | Permalink

    Glad somebody has spelled it out, although as the previous comment suggests, it won’t make a blind bit of difference.

  6. Posted 16/04/2017 at 21:57 | Permalink

    @Richard Evans – The discussion was about whether healthy lives cost money, not just about the costs of greater longevity. If you have an unhealthy life style but live longer due to NHS treatment, prescription of statins, treatment for diabetes, etc., then those constitute greater costs for unhealthy lifestyles, not healthy ones. Even if you don’t live longer, they will still cost money – just at an earlier stage and possibly restricting your productive potential.

  7. Posted 16/04/2017 at 22:01 | Permalink

    @Christopher Snowdon: “The costs of lost earnings fall on the individual. I’m looking at the costs to the government.”

    That is simply incorrect. Lost earnings also mean lower tax revenues. It may also mean greater benefits cost to government if the person is ill or dies, especially if they have dependents (which they generally don’t have after retirement age).

  8. Posted 16/04/2017 at 22:27 | Permalink

    There is a fundamental flaw (in fact, several, but I shall mention just one) in Christopher Snowdon’s discussion paper. Essentially he argues that greater longevity increases costs because it is associated with higher medical/care costs and thus he concludes that healthy lifestyles (which tend to increase longevity) cost, not save, money. But he forgets that correlation does not imply causation. On average everybody (unhealthy or healthy lifestyle) is living longer and he does not demonstrate that the extra healthcare costs as people age apply equally to people what ever their lifestyle – from all we can tell from his analysis the extra average cost increase may all, or primarily, or at least disproportionately be caused by those with unhealthy lifestyles living longer. Averages don’t tell us this.

    My point is a simple one – he has drawn conclusions that can’t be justified. I refuse to draw any conclusions because I don’t think the evidence or analysis done so far is good enough either way.

    Incidentally, he is quite selective in the studies he references. In a previous discussion on the subject with Tim Worstall on the subject of smoking/obesity costs, I had to point out to him that the very study he quoted drew attention to its own shortcomings and itself referenced contradictory study findings.

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