Algebra, Death, National Health Plans (or lack thereof) and YOU!!

Several days ago I wrote about the 2010 Statistical Abstract of the United States and how much fun we can have with that. Together we explored the lack of effectiveness of our lack of a national health plan. We spend more money per capita than any country on the planet and we have some of the worst results in terms of longevity.

We also found out that we have about 46 million Americans who are not covered by health insurance.

Lets turn out attention to that and what it means. OK, now anybody with math anxiety, take a few deep breaths and just fast forward to the end. You get a “speed pass” and it doesn’t cost you anything. Nothing but the best for Yogi’s Den readers. Check out what a speed pass costs at Disney World and you will appreciate me.

OK, you math, data, and rational thinking fans out there, here goes. Glenn Beck fans and other nostalgia buffs, you are welcome to come along also.

There was a study published in September 2009 in the American Journal of Public Health that said that the death rate for those people in the United States who do not have health insurance is 40% higher than the death rate for those who do not have insurance. The article is titled “Health Insurance and Mortality in US Adults.” You can find an abstract at the link above. The cheapskates want $20 to download the full article (maybe I’m the cheapskate, I don’t know – but I didn’t spend the $20.) Now lets be clear about the source. The American Journal of Public Health is a peer reviewed journal. That means, unlike Fox News or CNN, things have to be verified by other scientists before its published.

So anyway, the news media popped up everywhere, like here, and reported that this meant that 45,000 people a year were dieing because they didn’t have health insurance. I have googled and binged and searched and I can’t find the link between the 40% higher death rate and 45,000 more deaths per year annually.

So, lets see if we can do it!! With statistics and math! Wow.

So off we go to the Statistical Abstract.

We find in Table 127 that the total death rate in the United States is 815 deaths per 100,000 population as of 2006.

We find in Table 12 that the total population in 2006 was 298,363,000. (I’m going to use 300 million just to make the number more manageable.

So the number of deaths at 300 million population =

815 deaths per 100,000 people * 300,000,000/100,000 = 2,445,000 deaths per year.

OK, so what if everybody had insurance? How many deaths then.

The 815 deaths is for the actual mix of people. 46 million don’t have insurance so this means that 300-46 or 254 million people do have insurance.

Let X= the Death rate per 100,000 people for those with health insurance.

That means that 1.4X = the Death rate per 100,000 people for those without insurance.

So the total deaths of people per year that have insurance = X* 254,000,000/ 100,000
= 2,540 X

And the total deaths of people per year that don’t have insurance is 1.4*46,000,000/ 100,000
= 644 X

We are cooking with gas now folks.

So the total number of deaths in the US = 2,540 X + 644 X = 3,184 X

Remember, the total number of deaths is 2,445,000

So 3,184 X = 2,445,000

So X = 768 deaths per 100,000 insured people per year

and 1.4 X = 1,075 deaths per 100,000 uninsured people per year.

So, if everybody had insurance then the death’s per year would be

= 768 per 100,000 * 300,000,000/100,000 = 2,304,000 deaths per year.

Compared to the actual guestimated 2,445,000 deaths per year

So excess deaths per year due to uninsurance = 2,445,000 minus 2,304,000

= 141,000 per year.

So, I think maybe the published estimate of 45,000 excess deaths per year may be reasonable once somebody got through correcting for health condition, age, risk factors, etc (I mean if somebody shoots you or you die in a car accident it’s not affected by your insurance status.)

So lets go a step further. Forget the moral part of letting people die unncessarily, lets talk about the cost. If you go to table 124 you will find that in the year 2000, the total cost of somebody dieing was $192,772 in the year 2000. That includes the present value of remaining life’s earnings, etc. Lets say the cost with a little inflation is now $200,000 per death.

So the extra 45,000 deaths per year would costs $45,000 * 200,000
= $9 billion dollars per year.

The money is fine. I would just as soon have the people living.

What’s your take on all this?

4 thoughts on “Algebra, Death, National Health Plans (or lack thereof) and YOU!!

  1. Yogi♪♪♪

    I ask myself that more and more. Here in OK where there are no Democratic contenders for many offices you really don’t get to vote if you are a registered Democrat.

  2. Janie

    Impressive computations, and a good argument for health insurance. I hope you sent this to your Congressman. (I do sometimes wonder if it does any good. Utah is the reddest state in the Union, and my Congressmen sure aren’t listening to my mostly liberal opinions. But I send them anyway, for what it’s worth.)

  3. Martha Z

    That makes a lot of sense, Yogi. In my conservative district if I thought that switching would get a moderate Republican elected I might be tempted to switch.

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