Friday, August 14, 2009

Hospital Tax or Rationing

This is inspired by watching reading and hearing information on things like diabetes, death stats, hospital funding problems. Diseases like diabetes, heart disease etc. are often caused by lifestyle choices, and are detrimental on mortality rates and hospitals.

During wartime periods where there was rationing, people had less access to unhealthy products (sugar, cigarettes, etc) and were consequently healthier. There were less dental problems, less cholesterol problems, less heart disease, less smoking related cancers. You don't actually need to have a war to put rationing in place. If junk food products, alcohol, and cigarettes were rationed, we would all be healthier. Sure, people could swap rations (I'll give you my chocolate rations for your alcohol rations), but a lot of consumption would be curbed. A black market would of course arise, and policing it would take a fair amount of resources, but most people would not be that desperate. However, things would be more difficult to monitor if they are driven underground, and I'm sure the idea would be most unpopular with the freedom fighters of the world. The next idea is more practical and liberated, though a bit band aid orientated.

If you put a Hospital Tax on all products that contribute to people spending time in hospital, you could cover the expenses to the hospitals at the point of purchase. You would of course make sure the monies raised by the Hospital Tax gets to the hospitals. So, if the food is junk food (high energy, little nutritional value), put a Hospital Tax on it. Cigarettes and other smoking products could have a Hospital Tax on it. Alcohol could too (for long term damage and accidents), as well as vehicles and weapons. Anything that is likely to raise cholesterol, blood pressure, give you cancer, make you obese, or harm you in any way (directly like an accident or slowly or indirectly like pollution) could have a mandatory Hospital Tax. The tax could be worked out to cover the costs to the community in health care, and to prevent overzealous taxing (ie taxing lentils for choking hazard) simply tax the most common forms of hospitalizing products and the ones that cause the most grievous forms of harm. If you want to also put the purchaser off the product, you could insist (by law) that the product clearly displays it has the Hospital Tax on it and on any advertisement of the said product.

1 comment:

  1. I think you have some intelligent ideas here.

    I dont like taxes on cigarettes because I think it ends up taxing the poor. For instance consider a student who may only recieve $300 week or less from austudy.
    If he/she smokes 4 packets of cigarettes thats approx a fifth of his income.
    The government is considering a cigarette tax hike that would push the price of
    a pack of 30 cigarettes to over $20. While $20 dollars is barely a fart to one person, to another it means starving until pay day.
    I understand the logic that if a person smokes they are a greater burden on the health system but that same logic could be applied to healthy people who live longer. If someone lives a decade longer and needs a nurse to wheel them round in a wheelchair etc.

    Maybe a good idea would be to give concessions to people buying nicotine gum,patches, hypnotherapy whatever helps people quit.

    As for burger chains etc, I think they should have a hospital tax, environmental tax and healthwarnings. But maybe I should be showing the same sympathy to people with eating disorders such as obesity as I do to people with other addictions.
    Another bandaid Idea would be to force junkfood retailers to price their product by weight, ie if you only want to eat half the amount you pay half the price. This would encourage people to eat less. Presently they encourage the opposite. A small portion cost 95% of the price of large portion but its only 50% of the amount.