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Monday, September 04, 2006

Statistics in Life 4

Entry Four
Yesterday I read about a new program targeting senior citizens who are still driving but having difficulty due to age related impairments. It is sponsored by an insurance program (so we know it is cost effective) and designed to reduce the incidence of driving accidents among elderly drivers.
The clients will get a 90% reduction in insurance premiums and 30 round trip rides (in a new Lincoln) within their local city in exchange for promising not to drive their own car except in the case of emergency…and a $1,000 fee every three months. Several clients were thrilled at the prospect of this option.
I agree there is a need for some type of service designed for elderly with transportation needs. My own grandmother has a great deal of difficulty driving but doesn't live near enough to have assistance from family. The bus is not a feasible option because of the walking, waiting, etcetera involved…and the senior transportation in her area is available for doctors appointments only. I realize there are thousands of people in her situation and something needs to be done. However, this doesn't seem like a "good deal" at all. In fact, it smacks of taking advantage of a bad situation.
To begin with, there will still be a car in the household with maintenance and other associated costs…perhaps even a lease or loan. Then there is a reduced rate of insurance but a premium nonetheless. Add a $1,000.00 every three months and the cost of this becomes rather high. Ten trips a month is a "respectable" amount but doesn't give the same independence as spontaneously getting into the car to get milk. I also wonder about the scheduling and other concerns over convenience. Will this be available on short notice? How would the cost compare to getting rid of a car completely and paying for a taxi? How would the service compare? Would more elderly persons be able to remain independent if transportation was not an issue? Would it be cost effective for medicare to subsidize taxi service to the elderly rather than having to spend the money on a nursing home because people lack transportation?
In all seriousness, this is a question I have a genuine interest in. Not only for the elderly but the disabled, poor, and other populations affected by transportation problems. After having worked for the HRS (when it was HRS), I found many clients were given vocational training or put on welfare to work programs to no avail, or elderly persons who could not sustain themselves…due to transportation problems. It is especially severe in rural areas like Ocala that have no public transportation. The issue of the elderly is particularly significant in this area. Quality of life, economic, health, and many other issues are closely related to this question and I personally think it will be studied in great detail very soon.
And yes, it helps me in statistics to see a "real life" practical application of cost analysis using statistics. By the way, the article was very weak on the numerical side of reporting…it didn't say how much money the insurance company would makeJ.


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