Bioethicist: If We're Going To Tax Obese People More, We Should Tax Cat Owners Too

A growing number of people believe that obese Americans should pay more in taxes than healthy folks since being overweight can put you at a higher risk for health problems. It’s similar to the logic used to justify additional taxes on cigarettes. But bioethicist Art Caplan asks: Why not tax cat owners more while we’re at it?

“Cats are costing each one of us a lot of money to treat the allergies, asthma, skin problems and hospitalizations that they cause,” write Caplan in a column for MSNBC.

Given that there are around 86 million cats in U.S. homes and approximately 60 million Americans with cat allergies, “the odds are high that either you are allergic or someone you have over to your house could be.”

And those allergies come at a price to consumers. Caplan says that 1 in 2,000 people with cat allergies will have to go to the hospital each year. And Omalizumab, an asthma medication prescribed to some people with cat-related allergies can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $24,000.

He writes:

So bring on the fat tax — but tax all those who choose to make themselves, their kids and visitors sick by lifestyle choices, whether it’s eating too much junk food or housing felines. And hey, employers, don’t hire cat owners, or at least make them go to classes where they can learn about the true cost that kittens impose on us all.

While we are at it, let’s impose a fine on those who fail to wear a hat while at the beach, risking melanomas, and a skiing tax for those nutty enough to speed downhill knowing that the orthopedic clinic awaits at the bottom.

We asked Consumerist’s Tax Cat what he thought about this. He did not comment, but he did swat at something invisible in front of him for a few seconds before running up the stairs.

A modest proposal: To solve health spending crisis, tax cats [MSNBC]

Thanks to NettyM for the tip!