A lot of people have notions about who should foot the bill for universal health care. Should it be the rich? Some people say that’s not fair. The vain? Also maybe not fair. Thomas Frieden, the salt-and-fun-hating former New York City health commissioner, may have another solution. The newly installed head of the CDC released the following timely information at a conference on obesity in Washington this week:
The medical costs of treating obesity-related diseases may have soared as high as $147 billion in 2008 … The cost of treating obesity doubled over a decade, signaling the rising prevalence of excess weight and the toll it is taking on the health-care system.
“Obesity and with it diabetes are the only major health problems that are getting worse in this country, and they’re getting worse rapidly,” he said.
Frieden didn’t come right out and say it — he doesn’t have the authority to, plus he’s new and still tiptoeing around — but the message is clear. Tax the fat! There’s a lot of them, and they’re the ones using the system the most, and therefore they are the ones who should pay. Plus, with the new tax, they’ll be forced to lose weight — not having any money leftover to eat, walking instead of taking the subway, and so forth — and we’ll all have universal health care! Oh, unless it works too well and then everyone gets thin and there’s no one left to tax anymore… Eh, never mind.