Let’s get health costs under control

01/08/2012 § 1 Comment

Cancer Society chief executive Dalton Kelly berated New Zealanders yesterday, telling them to take control of their personal behaviours to control the country’s health costs. Obesity, smoking, drinking, tanning — these behaviours are leading to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other costly diseases. We are all bearing the costs for the choices that a few people are making. As Kelly points out, these aren’t paid for by a magic money tree. They are covered by taxes on you and me.

But I think that Kelly doesn’t really have the courage of his convictions, or perhaps he doesn’t understand the extent of the problem. What we really need to do is get to the root of the problem. We need a radical solution to control future health care costs, and we need to focus on the source of the problem.

There is one choice that thousands of Kiwis selfishly make that burdens the rest of us. They knowingly saddle us with future costs — costs they themselves aren’t willing to bear. They need to stop, for the good of the community, the country, and the budget.

They need to stop having children.

Not all children, mind you. Some children are fine. They will grow to be strong, healthy adults who contribute more in taxes than they suck out of the system in health costs. Their taxes can be used for worthwhile projects like new stadia and roads of national significance.

But some Kiwis, knowing that they have weak genetics, knowing that grandpa had gout or great-grandma had high cholesterol, knowing about the weeks in hospital or months in hospice, still insist on reproducing. They produce weak-gened children who contribute to this country’s metastasising health system.

You know who you are. For the good of the country, you must stop.



§ One Response to Let’s get health costs under control

  • I think your modest proposal is a bit too modest.

    Amniocentesis needs to be mandatory if the nuchal translucency test shows problems. If that shows Downs, you either abort or put up a bond equal to the costs to the public health system and to the welfare and education systems of having a child with Downs.

    Next, recognize that intelligence is hereditary and correlates with income. The kid’s IQ is, in expectation, the mean of the parents’ with some mean reversion. Set a tax or subsidy on childbearing based on deviation from mean expected lifetime earnings.

    Finally, if we’re going to do this properly, we have to get a handle on that healthy people live longer and, most worryingly, do it by having extended retirement non-work periods where they impose costs on the system but don’t contribute. Ideally we then subsidise kids among those who have good earnings profiles (as you note) but who have genetic conditions predisposing them to massive deadly heart attacks at age 70.

    [Please nobody read this and quote me as favouring any of these; I don’t.]

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