For example, instead of giving a tax credit for shipping a pet, the government could credit joining a gym. While music lessons are a noble pursuit, the current tax deduction for clarinet lessons to reduce overbite seems overly specific compared to crediting regular attendance at an exercise class to improve overall health. A few simple changes to the tax code would pay off many times over.
Boston and the Boston Medical Center have the right idea. A new program gives high-health-risk, low-income patients use of the city's bike share program for only $5 per year. The more these patients move, the lower their risks of disease.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on U.S. health care in the past 30 years concluded that the focus on disease treatment absent effective prevention strategy significantly contributes to skyrocketing health care costs.
The typical diabetic spends $1,500 per month on treatment. Type 2 diabetes is a largely preventable disease linked to inactivity, obesity and poor diet. The cost of treating diabetes in one person's lifetime totals millions of dollars. It makes more financial and medical sense to incentivize a prediabetic to prevent diabetes rather than pay for the expensive medical costs after the disease state occurs.
Exercise is an important part of the solution to reduce soaring health care costs, disease and obesity rates. Incentivizing movement will save money and make the populace stronger and healthier.