RE: Healthcare (was Re: John in Alaska)

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Wed Jan 23 2002 - 12:22:52 MST

> > But at what cost, Harvey? Because medical care costs money, every dollar
> > spent is x.xx hours of someone's life spent laboring for themselves or
> > for the government. Why slave away x hours of your life when you are
> > only going to get a fraction of that back in increased life span?
> Because I value my lifespan more than money. I want to live longer and keep
> working if I can. Why die early to save a little dough?

I think you miss the point, Harvey: "work" is, by definition, time
spent in pursuits other than what would be one's first choice of
what to do with that time. If you work for 12 hours to earn enough
to increase your lifespan by only 8 hours, then you haven't really
increased your "life" span at all--just your "work" span. You've
actually lost 4 hours of "life"--life is doing what /you/ want with
your time.

There are, however, risk aversion to consider as well as EV: it
might be a negative-EV bet to spend some amount of money insuring
yourself against certain catastrophic but rare medical occurrences
that might otherwise cut one's life short by many years, but it
would probably be positive if your risk aversion is high enough.

> I also believe that even small increments of lifespan let you live longer
> into the future where better life-extending techniques will be available. A
> few measly years might let me reach some new longevity breakthrough. I
> rather have a chance at immortality rather than saving a few bucks.

That is another possible counter-argument: if extending the end-point
of one's existence (even at the expense of "life" time as defined above)
sufficiently increases the likelihood of technology becoming available
that makes up for the work spent getting there, then you've won the bet.

> Seriously, you can use those calculations to limit healthcare spending by
> the government for other people, if you want. But personally, I want to
> spend lots of money on keeping me alive. If I ever have a choice between
> dying and spending money, I'll spend the money. I can't imagine ever
> keeping my money because life-extension is not cost-effective. What good
> will the extra money do me if I die early?

Again, the choice is not between dying and spending money: the choice is
between spending, say, 3 years working to get 1 "extra" year of free time,
or just spending 1 year working and 2 years in free time directly. Another
possible factor in that equation is one's enjoyment of work: if one's work
is very close to what one would otherwise choose to do anyway, then the
time lost can be discounted by some rate, possibly making it a good deal.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC

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