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Smoking for health care

FAZ: Health system subsidized with higher tobacco tax. Smoking for health care may make as little sense as making love for virginity, but the Red-Green coalition is proposing a €1 per pack increase in the cigarette tax to help finance the health insurance system. The package aims to decrease premiums from 14.4% to less than 13% of gross wages.

The cigarette tax should bring in €4 billion, just 20% of the €20 billion savings needed. So guess who pays the difference? For the most part, the partients, since other parts of the package include raising co-payments on prescriptions (to between €4 and €8), removing sick and maternity pay from the health insurance system, and various incentives (i.e. fees) to discourage patients from going directly to a specialist without seeing their family doctor first.

This puts the state even deeper in a moral hole. The health minister would like to discourage smoking, but the finance minister needs the money from the tobacco tax. This kind of reminds of the Woody Allen story about his brother who thought he was a chicken. They didn't want to bring him to a doctor, because they needed the eggs.

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