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Obama Administration increases value of human life

Anissa Ford's picture

A New York Times article in the business section shows the many ways the Obama administration has increased the dollar value of human life.

Simple preventative measures, like mandatory warning labels on acetaminophen and other drugs, are measures placed into effect because the government has deemed the price of a human life at a particular dollar amount.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the value of human life has increased during Obama’s administration. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the NYTIMES article, placed the value of human life at $9.1 million.

The number is some $3 million higher than during Bush’s Administration. That the value of life has increased under the Obama Administration is not surprising as this president has a vanguard effort in health care reform.

Much of Obama’s healthcare reform targets prevention and the preventative care in the effort to curb dollar amounts spent in treatments that could have been avoided with vigilant proactive health care.

The government has to place a cost on the value of a human life in order to determine how much money they should spend to prevent a single death. In terms of health care, there is a rift between Republicans and Democrats on who should pay for health care, preventative and otherwise.

In general, Republicans are not in favor of the new health care reform laws, primarily because the bills push business owners into a particular finance strategy to accommodate new health care legislation.

The NYTIMES article examples vehicles, suv’s for example, and the dollar amount that motor companies should spend to build safer vehicles. With a particular dollar amount set on a human life, the motor companies, ethically, should respond accordingly to build the safest cars they can afford to build, in order to prevent as many deaths as can afford to be prevented.

At stake in the discussion of the costs or value on a human life is virtually every ailment and health risk known to man from global warming, to workplace hazards to cancer.

Professor W. Kip Viscusi develop the cost benefit analysis of the value of human life in the 1970s. His last paper, written in 2002, estimated the value of human life at $8.7 million in current US dollars.

The conversation on the value of human life has advanced under the Obama Administration. Before, only the EPA had given credence to the model. Not every federal agency currently agrees on the dollar figure for a human life.

However, across the board, the work federal agencies do to protect consumers and health care patients, the New York Times article suggests, is the result of a conscientiousness movement and awareness in the federal government that has placed a higher value on the heads of its citizens.


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