Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Smoking Increases Health Care Costs - A contrary view

Recently BrooklynDodger posted a paper based on Netherlands data which stated that smoking cessation caused short term savings in health care costs, but after 15 years or so caused an increase in costs through smokers not dying early.

To repeat, the issue is whether increasing health care insurance costs are due to bad habits of the disease victims, or whether healthier behaviors will reduce costs.

This more recent analysis, using Danish data, concluded "Annual direct and indirect costs of ever-smokers were higher than for never-smokers in all age groups of both genders. ... Taking life expectancy differences into account, direct and indirect lifetime health costs for men aged 35, discounted by 5% per year were 66% and 83% higher in ever-smokers than in never-smokers. Corresponding results for women were 74% and 79%, respectively. ... Excess costs of ever-smokers disappear if the inclusion of smoking-related diseases is narrowed to that of previous studies."

BrooklynDodger is just a simple country toxicologist, so these complex economic considerations are difficult to parse. The Dodger think the take home lesson is that health care cost impact for smoking cessation is a close call, depending on methods and assumptions. However, neither the Dutch study before, or the Danish study now, took into account the pension savings from early death.

Obviously the victims pay, regardless of whether the social insurance scheme or the employers benefit or not.


Eur J Public Health. 2004 Mar;14(1):95-100.

The total lifetime costs of smoking.

Rasmussen SR, Prescott E, Sorensen TI, Sogaard J.
DSI Danish Institute for Health Services Research, Copenhagen, Denmark. srr@dsi.dk

1 comment:

Blue Cross of California said...

Smoking will increase health care costs due to higher risk to your health. It is really unfortunate and can be a expensive habit.