Comparing lack of insurance deaths with traffic accident deaths


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


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. 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 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: 🙂 ]

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

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:]

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]

Do you monitor your energy consumption?


Puget Sound Energy uses Energy Guide to provide very interesting analytical tools to see your energy consumption. It’s similar to tools by Google and Microsoft, both of which do not work with my PSE account.

I hadn’t noticed this visual before which compares our energy consumption with other similar dwellings in the area:


I am not quite sure what we are doing better. When I compare it to the same month last year, my total YoY consumption has gone down:


If we assume no other factors have changed then the main difference seems that we had two more people living with us that month. I remember reading somewhere that hot water consumption is one of the main variable factor in energy bills. Less people means less hot water consumption. Maybe that’s all that makes us “better” than others in our area. If this is true, then just by looking at anyone’s bill in our area one could predict how many people live in that household 🙂

Maybe it is due to some other changes we have made e.g. I took down my 24×7 FON hotspot last month. I could be wrong, but I remember from my previous calculations that a 24×7 router adds up to around the same energry consumption as a stove-top used twice a day. Time to put the rusty Kill-a-Watt to some use.

Can you think your way to sharper TV picture quality?


When I first hooked up my Comcast HDTV service to my brand new plasma HDTV, it took me a while to realize what I was watching was not HD quality. Things looked a little stretched out and the on-screen text was not quite as sharp as I had heard HD would be. Having never seen any HD content before, however, I wasn’t sure whether what I was watching was HD or not. It definitely looked better to me compared to what I was used to seeing before.

Only after I got a new HD box from Comcast did I quickly realize the difference. It’s much much better and the sharpness and detail is definitely more pronounced. Now that I know what HD looks like, I can definitely tell it apart from SD. (However, I am still not able to tell the difference between 1080i and 1080p, at least not on a 42” screen.)

A Dutch study wanted to see if simply being told that you’re viewing an HD picture quality would lead to a satisfactory viewing experience.

Two groups of 30 people watched the same video clip, individually, on the same television. Half were told to expect a better experience thanks to HD technology, an impression backed up by posters, flyers and an extra-thick cable connected to the screen. The other half were told to expect a normal DVD signal.

The results? Those who were told to expect HD quality "witnessed significantly sharper, more detailed images." The takeaway: A discerning eye, gullibility, and many other variables notwithstanding, until you can afford to shell out big bucks for a decent set, you can always try convincing yourself that what you have now ain’t all that bad.

I think I agree with the finding and the advice. If you haven’t yet seen what HD looks like, you probably won’t miss it as much as someone who has already experienced it.

[via Lifehacker]

Interesting urban geocache in Vancouver


It so happened that a geocacher arrived at a geocache to log a visit. He was dismayed to find that it had been muggled earlier in the day. With the contents gone and no logbook to sign-on, he improvised and decided to write on the remains of the vandalized cache container itself. Since then, many geocachers have been showing up at the site and writing directly on the fake electric box to log their visit. We were in Vancouver recently so we sought it out and logged our visit as well.

 Vancouver 111

Though it’s located in a back alley, I have never seen any geocache which is visible in plain sight from more than 50 feet away!

Vancouver 118[5]

Feed your fish while you are away


We are amateur neon tetra owners. Our main worry since we have had these fish had been how do we take care of them when we are away. You can get 1 week food tablets which can slowly feed your fish over a week. But if you plan to be gone longer than that, what do you do?

It turns out you can just buy a nice and cheap $20 automatic feeder. It can hold 6 weeks of food and can be programmed to feed upto 4 times a day. It also has a setting that during each feeding time it drops food twice � with an interval of a minute between them � to help the slow eaters have a better chance at getting their food.

We tried it out yesterday and it works flawlessly. Now only of we could find another cheap way to automatically change the water once a week without doing any special hardware setup

Here’s a Petco link though it’s much cheaper on eBay.

Assemble a 11ft iPhone charger for $9


If you are as annoyed as I often feel about the tiny length of the USB cable that comes with the iPhone then you might find this useful.

Instead of dishing out $18 for an extra USB cable from apple, consider spending just $9 buying the following parts off eBay or newegg to make your own charger of any length you please. I find it really convenient when I know I am near an AC outlet and want to just sit and do stuff on the phone without feeling tethered to a wall or the USB port of my computer.

Total = $9.07

New Google already bested by current Bing?



Mashable just reported on the new version of Google by comparing a search for the term “mashable” between the two versions. It appears that they have mixed up the screenshots between the two versions. Correcting for that, here’s their screenshot of what the search results look like on the “new, top-secret” version of Google. Below that is what the search results look like on the existing public version of Bing. When I search for the word “mashable” I am more likely to be interested in tweets by mashable (bing) than in news articles about mashable (google). Seems to me that Bing has a superior results page than Google. It’s real-time enough to also capture the very tweet that mashable made about their story.



10 years of Windows Live Messenger


I remember the IRC/ICQ days when you could actually meet real people online and have interesting discussions with them. The “Free for Chat” status message on ICQ and the “Find someone to chat” connected me with some people that I am still friends with.

When MSN Messenger came out, I remember installing it and being impressed at how light, clean and fun it was. I loved the design, I loved the sounds and I absolutely loved that I could see when my friend was typing a message. A first time feature then, I remember very clearly how dead my conversations on Yahoo Messenger felt in comparison as I could never tell when someone was done speaking, or was just typing a long sentence. ICQ had a plugin which would let me see my friends type in real time – with their typos, backspaces etc. I think that was too much of an overkill.

I remember how I ended up having my closest friends on MSN messenger as it just felt a lot more intimate and personal.

Well, that was 1999 and it is 2009 already. My entire internet life is covered in those 10 years and Windows Live Messenger (as it is now called) just turned 10.

Lonn made an excellent, funny video for the event and it makes me smile each time I see it.