Comparing lack of insurance deaths with traffic accident deaths

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No. of people that die each year due to lack of insurance in the US: 45,000 [Source: Harvard Study]
No. of people that die each year due to lack of insurance in the UK: 0 ?

No. of people that die each year to due traffic accidents in the US: 42,000 [Source: Car Accident Statistics]
No. of people that die each year due to traffic accidents in the UK : 3,200 [Source: Dept of Transportation UK]

Cost of insuring everyone to reduce lack-of-insurance deaths in the US: 100 billion per year [Source: NY Times comparision report]
Cost incurred due to the 6.4 million auto accidents each year in the US: 230 billion per year [Source: Car Accident Statistics]

%age of traffic deaths to total deaths in the US: 1.68% [calculation]
%age of traffic deaths to total deaths in the UK: 0.5% [calculation]

A death is 3 times as likely to be due to a road accident in the US than in the UK. Since road accidents have a very high skew towards young drivers, it has an asymmetrical impact on the total life expectancy of a country. The more the traffic deaths, the lower the life expectancy.

Life expectancy rank of the US: 50 [source: Wikipedia reference]
LIfe expectancy rank fo the UK: 35 [source: Wikipedia reference]

Top reason for highway crashes: Driver attitude – aggresive/ignorant [Source: Statistics Top 10]

Conjecture: If we improve driver attitude to reduce highway crashes, it can cover the uninsured with the money saved and double the increase in life expectancy with a zero net sum cost!

Thoughts after reading the 1,990 page health care reform bill H.R.3962

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The bill is broken down into 4 main divisions. I admit that I just breezed through division B, which talks about reforms and cost savings in Medicare, and division D, which talks about reforms for health care for Indians (Native Americans, not me 🙂 ).

Here’s highlights of the other two divisions:

Division A

  • Insurance becomes a heavily-regulated, highly accountable, fixed-margin marketplace – you make a profit? pass it back to the insured as a dividend
  • Enforcement of consumer protection, reduced variability, increased guarantee and reliability of health care
  • Ensures higher quality of coverage, regardless of impact on insurance premiums

Division C

  • Introduces a bunch of incentives for wellness programs, positive behavior, preventive care, research into effective, evidence based medicine
  • Introduces incentives to increase the health workforce in the country

Division A levels the playing field, sets some tough but humane standards that really should be met for health coverage to be meaningful. It’s a sweeping reform in this area. Division C attempts to offset the costs in the long run by introducing incentives for preventive care and increasing health workforce.

Whether Division C offsets the cost of Division A is debatable, and I personally think it won’t magically reduce the bottomline cost of healthcare. What this does succeed in is establishing quality standards which will expose the true cost of real health coverage for everyone in the country. It ensures that cutting health care costs by reducing coverage or turning a blind eye to the problem is no longer an option. The bill is an embodiment of the country’s belief that everyone has a basic right to reliable and affordable health care, no matter the cost to everyone. It forces everyone to look at other creative ways to reduce costs and raise money to support this right, starting with increasing Medicare efficiency and taxing the super rich. However, I could’t understand how this bill achieves a reduction in insurance premiums. Isn’t that the bottomline cost that should be of concern? If you have any insight into this, please leave a comment or email me.

Having read the earlier bill at the start of the summer, this bill comes across as a little more exhaustive and reflects the incorporation of a wider set of opinions, which explains the additional 1000 pages 🙂 Would be interesting to see how it evolves as it passes through the senate.

Have you read the bill before forming an opinion? Of the 40,000 people who have read the bill so far, 80% oppose it. http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3962/show Also consider reading the NY times comparative report.

[Note: Even in the case of the earlier draft that was hotly debated, 77% people who actually read the bill voted against it http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/show Either supporters access the bill through some other source that I am not aware of, or they just rely on trust and summaries by others, or only the opposers care to scrutinize the bill in detail. If you want to show your support for the bill, consider voting “Aye”, after reading the bill, of course!]

Appendix:Understanding the numbers using some crude, loose calculations

Number of uninsured people this bill would help = 36 million [source: ny times summary]

Cost of proposed plan = $110 billion per year [source: ny times summary]

Assumed average individual premium for job-based insurance = $5,000 per year [source: about.com 🙂 ]

Assumed average family premium for job-based insurance = $10,000 per year [source: about.com 🙂 ]

Cost of insuring 36 million people with existing average individual premiums  = $180 billion per year [source: calculation]

Cost of insuring 36 million people with existing average family (assuming family of 4) premiums  = $90 billion per year [source: calculation]

Cost of the two wars in the last nine years = $919 billion or averaging $91 billion per year [source: http://costofwar.com/]

Number of people in America that die each year due to lack of insurance = 45,000 deaths per year [source: Harvard study]

Number of people in the world that die of malaria each year = 1 million deaths per year [source: Gates foundation]

Cost of completely eradicating malaria from the world = $5 billion per year for 12 years [source: Roll Back Malaria]