A new study is trying to put a price tag on the cost of California's air pollution. And the findings may leave you coughing.
The RAND group based in Santa Monica examined hospital visits during a three-year span from 2005 through 2007 in an attempt to find what air pollution costs insurance companies.
According to KPCC:
RAND researchers looked only at certain hospital visits, and only from a three-year span — from 2005 through 2007. They didn’t include every hospital visit that air pollution could have caused, only admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular problems, and emergency room visits.
The price tag? During the three year period, Medi-Cal, Medicare, and other insurance companies spend $193 million. If you consider the "list price" -- the cost before insurance companies apply their discount-- the bill is closer to $740 million, KPCC reported.
Researchers say the costs could be prevented if the state met Federal clean air guide lines.
"Overall, of the $193 million hospital spending over this period due to the failure to meet federal clean air standards, about 2/3 of that is on these public programs — and the taxpayers are on the hook for that," Economist John Romley told KPCC.