People Who Have Unhealthy Habits Should Not Pay More for Health Insurance People with healthy habits do get diseases,and these diseases do put a big burden on taxpayers’ wallet. Alzheimers disease costs on an average more than $148 billion, cancer more than $228 billion, diabetes more than $174, cardio vascular diseases (CVD) more than $475 (Factsheets) and smoking costs less than $ 97 billion. Not all cancers and CVDs are results of smoking. Smoking has therapeutic effect too, which by ameliorating other diseases reduces the cost of health insurance directly. Cigarette smoking lowers risks of Parkinson’s disease (Thacker et al 766) which costs around $ 23 billion annually. Smoking also reduces incidence of breast cancer (Brunet et al 761). Smokers also get protection from several diseases like Alzheimers disease, gum diseases, repeated revascularization after percutaneous coronary intervention, atopic disorders, tuberculosis, rare skin cancers, ulcerative colitis, and against neural tube defects (Therapeautic effects of smoking and nicotine). Since smoking can prevent or reduce risks of several diseases, why do smokers have to pay more for their insurance policies? Shouldn’t they be given incentives instead? Although smoking cessation is desirable from a public health perspective, its consequences with respect to health care costs are still debated. Smokers have more disease than nonsmokers, but nonsmokers live longer and can incur more health costs at advanced ages. If people stopped smoking, there would be a savings in health care costs, but only in the short term. Eventually, smoking cessation would lead to increased health care costs. (Barendregt, Bonneux and Maas 1057)
Alcohol dependence is a common, complex disorder, which affects millions of people worldwide and causes considerable burden in societal costs. However, family, twin, and adoption studies have convincingly demonstrated that genes play an important role in the development of alcohol dependence, with heritability estimates in the range of 50% to 60% for both men and women (Dick and Bierut 152). Also moderate alcohol can contribute to the lower risk of coronary heart disease (Facchini, Chen and Reaven 115) and there is no associations between alcohol intake and body mass index, it appear to vary according to gender and is not explained by differences in cigarette smoking or type of beverage consumption (Colditz et al 55).
Growing clinical evidence suggests that adolescence represents a period of heightened biological vulnerability to the addictive properties of illegal substances and greater vulnerability for experimentation with substances and acquisition of substance use disorders. This is the age of peer pressure when frontal cortical and subcortical monoaminergic systems are developing and the inhibitory control system is still immature. Hence they get addicted to these “experimentational” substances, which carry on into their adult life (Chambers, Taylor and Potenza 1041). This is yet another evidence that addiction is a neurological illness and is environmentally guided. Since addiction is a chronic relapsing disease we must treat it as we treat other such diseases, including its insurance policies. We understand how genetic polymorphisms can make cancers resistant to treatment. we are quick to show compassion to patients with such cancers. Why, then, can we not show the same understanding and compassion toward people whose genetic polymorphisms make them resistant to stopping smoking, or abusing alcohol. Hence distributive justice and not retributive justice should be ruled in favor of these victims of vulnerable age, environment, peer pressure, genetic polymorphism, and neurological illness.
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