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Are unhelmeted riders really costing us an arm and a leg? | WhyBike? Motorcycle Blog

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Are unhelmeted riders really costing us an arm and a leg?

By James - 11/10/2006

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Someone on a forum I participate in, while discussing helmet laws, brought up the frequent lament of those in favor of mandatory helmet laws. Insurance rates and taxes will go up as more unhelmetd bikers are a burden on the public healthcare system. I wondered how much the “burden” was and wanted to put it into perspective, so I did a little research.

Unhelmeted riders cost taxpayers $853 million last year.

The United States spent $1.9 trillion on healthcare in 2004.

Unhelmeted riders accounted for .00004% of the spend.

For comparison, caring for smoking related health problems cost the government $12.9 billion or .007%. That is more than 150 times more costly.

Here are some more numbers I found around the web:

Obesity costs the government $7.7 billion in healthcare expenses

Alcohol costs the government $12.2 billion in healthcare expenses

Medicaid fraud costs the government $140 billion in healthcare expenses

Now I am all for reducing waste, but the argument that unhelmeted riders are a burden on our healthcare system is a weak one. When it is put into perspective with other more costly activities it seems to be a pittance. Whether or not you are for or against helmet laws, I hope you find this data useful.

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