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Tax wine to pay for health care? Bad idea.

We are just about halfway through the countdown of 101 healthy reasons to drink wine, leading up to the publication of the second edition of Age Gets Better with Wine from the Wine Appreciation Guild August 17. So we pause to consider a topic of current importance, the debate in congress about health care reform and how to pay for it. One of the proposals being floated is the recurring theme of “sin taxes” which are erroneously interpreted as including wine along with all alcoholic beverages. The logic is that since alcohol contributes to health problems and is a discretionary expense, it should make a contribution to health care costs. This is exactly backwards.
Here’s why: Moderate drinkers (and that is most people), especially wine drinkers, actually have lower health care costs because they are healthier. You have seen a partial list of the many health benefits with this countdown, but the government’s own studies confirm it. A 2006 study of drinking habits in Medicare patients revealed that over a 5-year period, moderate wine drinkers (defined as those consuming 6-13 glasses of wine per week) had medical costs averaging about $2000 less than nondrinkers. (Reference available on request.) So by implication, health care expenditures across the board could be decreased substantially by a program of promoting wine drinking, not taxing it. How about a tax on high-fructose corn syrup instead?
"I think it is a great error to consider a heavy tax on wines as a tax on luxury. On the contrary, it is a tax on the health of our citizens."
-Thomas Jefferson

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