Denmark’s Fat Tax Failure

by wisdomhunt

Denmark has been an amazing prototype for the universal health care system that the United States so desperately needed prior to Obama swooping in to save us.

One necessary component of any universal health care system is the ability to keep costs down. Some of these cost savings will come from the health care system being more efficient once it is run by intelligent government agents. Others will come from behavior modifications.

About a year ago, Denmark enacted a policy to modify behavior: a tax on saturated fats. Despite what many of the kooks would have you believe, saturated fats have been proven to possibly be correlated with high cholesterol which could possibly be correlated with the possibility of theoretically leading to heart disease. They are definitely maybe not healthy.

So when everyone is sharing the burden (via taxation) of health care costs via a universal health care system, it is much easier for the populace to support such taxes to modify behaviors.

Unfortunately for Denmark, their saturated fat tax failed miserably and was rescinded in about a year. This was not enough time for the full benefits of such a tax to be realized. With more time, a noticeably healthier population would have become apparent and the tax would have become easier for the population to accept, just as 40 or so years of pushing “healthy whole grains” has succeeded in making the US one of the healthiest nations in the world.

But despite Denmark’s unfortunate situation, there is a lesson here for the United States as we (inevitably) attempt to institute similar policies in the future.

Regulations to quantify negative externalities (fat taxes) to fix negative externalities caused by separate regulations (universal health care) is pretty much an exact science for people as smart as our politicians. What could possibly go wrong?