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Witless
Currently as the system works if you admit to smoking, or admit to heavy drinking, your health insurance goes up. But if you live in a place like the UK.. as far as the free health service goes, nothing happens regardless of how well or how poorly you treat yourself.
I personally feel everyone deserves health care regardless of what they do to themself.. so i'm not saying for a moment that we cut back health care for anyone.
But! I was thinking.. *can already hear the boo's and hisses*.
How about this some way of increasing the contribution of those that want to smoke, drink heavily and the like towards a countries health service.
There's lots of ways to do it.. like cigerette taxes being increased.. and 100% of cigerette tax going to the health services. Same with alcohol. Or maybe some other scheme where you need a license to buy certain things.. and people with that license get taxed more and that extra tax going into the health service.

I do have a personal gripe about this issue. It's a bit annoying to note that if something bad should happen to me meaning I'd need a lung transplant or the like.. despite the fact I don't smoke.. I'd be way down in the waiting list for organs behind all the people that brought it on themself through smoking. Even though I pay just as much as they would and kept myself in a better position to stay healthy, I'd still lose out.

People putting themselves into health troubles through smoking and drinking make up the majority of the drain on the NHS (national health service) in the UK second only to ageing, with smoking being the leading cause of preventable death. The number of smokers is actually increasing, while the amount spent on bolstering the NHS is not. Doesn't take a maths wizard to realise that it's a situation that cannot support itself. We have an aging population to worry about as it is.. increasing numbers of smokers isn't helping the situation at all.
So why not make it even more financially beneficial for people to cut back on bad habits a little. If people want to smoke.. then they have to pay more into the health system to support their habit. If they quit.. the health system gets less money.. but also less strain from the issues smoking causes.
Cigerette tax in the uk has no preset destination currently (though the government has claimed it does help the health service they've never backed this up with proof). For all we know it could be going towards anything from the war in iraq, to creating extra lines on the London underground network.

It's the same logic that would say.. petrol taxes going to efforts to support the environment.. therefore the more we drive.. the more resources are available to counter the pollution effects.

None of what I am suggesting here would ever come to pass in my opinion.. there's just way too many 3rd parties in a position of power that would block any suggestion I've made being seriously considered no matter who tryed to implement them.

The discussion here is more a hypothetical one of "would it work?" and if not, why not? Also.. who would like to see something like this or similar implemented, and who would hate it, and think it's too big brotherish?

Discuss!
Mr Fuzzy
Actually smokers do pay a great deal of money in taxation. I'll even provide a link to a page on an anti-smoking site which in its first paragraph shows some pretty fearsome figures before going on to say the equivalent of "screw you, although you vile smokers pay huge wads of extra cash the worlds ills are still all your fault."

http://www.ash.org.uk/html/smuggling/html/whytax99.html

Interestingly obesity costs the NHS a great deal more, yet there are not punitive taxes on junk food, or anywhere near the same level of crusading against salad dodging.
Witless
Yeah I know, UK cigerette taces are already in place and are infact way higher than the US cigerette taxes. So that's all good, however it's not really clear whether any of that is going to the health service at all.

Yeah I'd also like to see the measures on junk foods too, petrol and smoking were just examples.. but there's loads of things that could be taxed or profits from used to help deal with the results of what they themselves create.
Snugglebum the Destroyer
I've been in full time employment for 10 years. I've paid my Tax and National Insurance for 10 years. I smoke and drink like a trooper (I'm not, in fact a trooper by trade). Hell yes, I absolutely expect the NHS to patch me up when my body fails. Because that's what I'm paying for.

Point of fact - a non - smoking health freak who's been unemployed for 10 years and has NEVER contributed in any way would get the same care as me. Is that fair?
Witless
Well.. it isn't people that are looking after themselves that are putting the health service under so much pressure.

It's the ageing population and those that don't look after themselves. I certainly don't suggest we start executing the old.
Snugglebum the Destroyer
So - people who live that much longer because they DO look after themselves are as much to blame? We have to support an aging society.

At least I'll have the good grace to die young.
Witless
Well... that's the problem with not looking after yourself.. it's not something that kills you suddenly. More often than not, it's a pained drawn out over time death. Drags on forever with a lot of people. Fit people tend to be healthy right up until near their time alot more than people that are very unfit.

It differs in individual cases of course. But this is about trying to get the pressure of the numbers down.
Snugglebum the Destroyer
QUOTE
But this is about trying to get the pressure of the numbers down.


In which case you may as well try to put restrictions on how many children a couple have.

You still didn't answer my question; a non - smoking health freak who's been unemployed for 10 years and has NEVER contributed in any way would get the same care as me. Is that fair?

You have an extremely idealistic view of how life should be and dare I say it - a naive view. I may have chosen to smoke but it's not as simple as just not doing it one day and all is sorted. Perhaps the government should put more into trying to assist people in giving up? I know that they put a fair amount in at the moment but it's not enough. I have an addiction. If it was herion then I'd get a whole hell of a lot more help - financially and emotionally.

Our health service has enough to deal with without having to look at the merits of two patients and decide who is more worthy of their help. The current system works, it does - the ones in the most need get the priority service despite their lifestyle.

You can't penalise people because they choose to smoke. What about people who practice extreme sports? Unprotected sex? Obsessively eat? Where do you draw the line?
little_bear
There is nothing wrong with the system as it stands. If you make a select few people pay, why not make the entire population pay? The NHS is the best idea since sliced bread, in my opinion.

I'm willing to bet that the people who would end up paying the most 'tax' are the poorest people in our society. Plus, not everyone is a heavy drinker/smoker. Some people smoke and drink in moderation and as such will suffer none, if any, of the ill effects associated with the two drugs and will never need a liver transplant, or treatment for lung cancer.

Shit, I was going to make another point, but I forgot.

Oh! I remember now.

What is more, I believe that hiking up the prices of cigarettes and alcohol will only serve to bolster the black economy in such goods. We're never going to stop people smoking or drinking, after all, so taxing smokers and drinkers more isn't really going to stop them, just make their lives harder.
Witless
I have a view of the world where people that mess themselves about more, have to deal with the consequences a bit more.
If I was to take a step back and view the world as a whole for a moment.. the masses are paying for the welfare of the few. I think that's entirely unfair situation, and I do feel guilt about it sometimes.
I don't believe in a nanny state of people saying what others can and cannot do. If I did then I'd believe smoking should be illegal. But if people are going to insist on fecking themselves up no a regular basis. Day in and day out, and the fall out of which is going to have an affect does effect others. Than yeah, I would say they have to deal with the strain on the system more than people that aren't causing the issue.

QUOTE
You still didn't answer my question; a non - smoking health freak who's been unemployed for 10 years and has NEVER contributed in any way would get the same care as me. Is that fair?


No I don't think that's fair either... but I haven't the patience to list every annoying situation about the system and debate about ideas for those to. Not without not sleeping for a few days and writing an extended essay about it.

As it stands the UK actually puts one of the least amounts of money into it's own health service in the whole EU. (Check it out.
It's one of the reasons our organ donor lists are longer (not the only one.. but one of), it's the reason our blood banks are under stocked, and why in many areas there is a lack of beds. It's the reason our nurses are under paid causing a lack of people wanting to become nurses nowadays. It maybe free, and better than say a third world country's but better than the worst doesn't make something good.

The health secretary of France said it best with "if you want a good health service you have to pay for it". It seems unfair however that we'd need an across the board rise in everyone paying for it when there's people causing more issue than others.
I myself am far from a health freak, but I'd certainly understand perfectly if certain things I did required me to pay more in order to support the situation.

QUOTE
You can't penalise people because they choose to smoke. What about people who practice extreme sports? Unprotected sex? Obsessively eat? Where do you draw the line?


I'd just tax those things people buy and use it to fund the health system. I wouldn't be able to tax something like extreme sports obviously, or unprotected sex, or people that can't be bothered to read safety labels on hand drills for that matter. But that's because no systems perfect, but some systems work better than others.

I'd rather people just had less kids than anything, but that's asking people to go against 1000s of generations of habit. Can't imagine how you'd convince people of that anytime soon.. not without all suddenly becoming communist and doing a China style one child policy.

Right, I gotta go do stuff.. but I'll reply later if you carry this on, you bring up good points and this debate is interesting biggrin.gif
Daedalus
I only said yesterday that I wasn't going to post again here, but this thread is just crying for some attention.

QUOTE (Snugglebum the Destroyer @ Mar 21 2006, 10:59 PM)
You still didn't answer my question; a non - smoking health freak who's been unemployed for 10 years and has NEVER contributed in any way would get the same care as me. Is that fair?

Everyone in the UK is entitled to NHS care, free at the point of use, regardless of how 'worthy' they might be to society. That includes unemployed people who, contrary to popular belief, are not all scrounging scumbags that can't be bothered to work. To be unemployed for 10 years you would have to have a pretty damn good reason for it - people don't receive unemployment benefit forever if they're not actively looking for a job or get trained to a point where they can. If there is a legitimate reason why they can't work, then of course it is perfectly fair that they receive treatment. The whole point of the NHS is to look after the disadvantaged in our society so that they don't have to fork out for health care when they need it.

Then again, if you let all those evil scroungers, like the poor, disabled and unemployed die from preventable illnesses, the treasury wouldn't have to pump so much money into the welfare system, meaning it could fund the NHS even better. That way all the nice, hardworking people who have jobs (or are too rich to bother) and who have nice homes and secure futures can use and abuse the NHS system even more - they could even harvest the organs from all the dead people in the street so there'd be plenty of replacements for the people who think it's too much effort to look after the body they've got!

[/dripping sarcasm]

Ahem... where was I?

QUOTE (Snugglebum the Destroyer @ Mar 21 2006, 10:59 PM)
You have an extremely idealistic view of how life should be and dare I say it - a naive view.  I may have chosen to smoke but it's not as simple as just not doing it one day and all is sorted.  Perhaps the government should put more into trying to assist people in giving up?  I know that they put a fair amount in at the moment but it's not enough.  I have an addiction.  If it was herion then I'd get a whole hell of a lot more help - financially and emotionally.

Is it naive to expect people who choose to engage in activities that they know will do serious harm to themselves to then have to live with the consequences of their actions?

As for help giving up, a heroin addiction is quite a different matter to a nicotine addiction - but the government does do a lot to try to help both types of addicts to quit. If you're looking for government campaigns to help people quit smoking, have a look here and here.

QUOTE (Snugglebum the Destroyer @ Mar 21 2006, 10:59 PM)
Our health service has enough to deal with without having to look at the merits of two patients and decide who is more worthy of their help.  The current system works,  it does - the ones in the most need get the priority service despite their lifestyle. 

You can't penalise people because they choose to smoke.  What about people who practice extreme sports?  Unprotected sex?  Obsessively eat?  Where do you draw the line?
*

Again, I'm going to voice the radical opinion that people who decide to screw with their own bodies should be expected, to an extent, to bear the consequences of their actions. People should be helped to live healthy lives, not helped to get fixed up so they can just go back to slowly killing themselves again.

Currently, if you completely mess your organs up, be it by smoking, drinking or obesity, doctors are less likely to give you a transplant. A Doctor would be reluctant to give a patient a liver transplant if, for example, the patient is just going to destroy that one with alcohol as well. Also, if someone is too unhealthy to undergo a transplant operation, they're not going to get one because they'll most likely die on the operating table. So, although there isn't a deliberate 'smokers can sod off and die' policy, there is some level of prioritisation based on the circumstances of the patient.

QUOTE (little_bear @ Mar 21 2006, 11:23 PM)
There is nothing wrong with the system as it stands.  If you make a select few people pay, why not make the entire population pay?  The NHS is the best idea since sliced bread, in my opinion.

Well, it can always get better, but the NHS is teh roxxor, generally.

QUOTE (little_bear @ Mar 21 2006, 11:23 PM)
I'm willing to bet that the people who would end up paying the most 'tax' are the poorest people in our society.

Unfortunately, you're bang on. Absurdly, the poorest 10% of the population pay a half of their income in tax, while the richest 10% only pay just over a third. Blame this on regressive taxation on consumption such as VAT (raised to 17.5% by Thatcher to offset the cost to the treasury of slashing income tax). I don't know if those figures take into account any benefits and tax credits or not, but the distribution of the tax burden is certainly something that needs addressing.
MrRandomQuotes
Ok.. my penny....

Its actually been theorised by economists that the smokers in the UK pay a substantially higher amount in taxes to the government, not only because of all the tax they throw on ciggarettes, but because they dont live as long. This means less government pension, less likely of dying senile and in need of constant medical care.

And the NHS does practice a policy of selective organ insertion (opposite of donation?). Those that have had their liver fail through no fault of their own will get a liver berfore a person that has been pickling it for years.
bryden42
Ok heres a question for you matazonians? what is it that defines the category of legality that any particular drug comes under?
My point being that if this is a problem (and for the record i do not think that it is as I feel that there are balancing factors in everones life) then combat the problem at the source and make nicotine and alcohol illegal! they are bad for us, we all know this but continue to do it anyway, so ban them and the problem will reduce.
Of course I'm perfectly happy to have the odd drink and I dont smoke and i don't begrudge anyone using the NHS for smoking and drink related illness, And I most definately don't think that this is a problem that needs addressing.
pgrmdave
Making alcohol illegal is a great idea! It didn't cause any problems when we tried it in the US! (sarcasm)

There are certain things that come along with living in a large society, and paying for other people's vices, in one way or another, is one of them. About 10% of the cost of all retail is to cover stolen goods, taxes pay for police, which would be unnecessary (for the most part) if people didn't commit crimes. There are a lot of things for which we pay that we probably shouldn't need to, however, I believe that the benefits of living in a modern society are worth it. I do not believe that it is right, but that it is a necessity.
Museum Girl
A lot of people smoked before they knew smoking was bad for you, or atleast how bad for you it was. These people, some of whom quit over ten years ago now, are currently the ones dying of lung cancer and emphasima. They are also often quite old. Should we force them to pay more or deny them treatment?

Although I do think hiking up tobacco taxes and pouring all of the increase into the NHS is a fantastic idea.
The Chief
Interesting topic this one my following statement is based on when I worked in the N.H.S back in the 1990's. All I saw was money being wasted left, right and centre on all kinds of things, most of it on managers you would not believe the amount of managers were created. mad.gif

The problem has been going on for a good 30 years and all the Governments of the day did was very little in the way of sorting this mess out. Today's government claims it has done great things well not from where I am sitting. We all need to take more care of ourselves, the wastage in the N.H.S must be sorted out get rid of all that red tape. And the Government must wake up and do something right, our health service is now lower than Poland, what is going on.
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