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Cleaner air over Tesla vehicles supercharging. Photo by Zach Shahan, CleanTechnica.

Air Quality

Tesla Is Slowly Cutting Into Pharmaceutical & Health Insurance Costs

There are so many industries that Tesla is affecting — threatening even. There are a couple that don’t get much thought or attention, though. Although Tesla doesn’t make medicines or cure diseases, it is also having a growing effect on the pharmaceutical industry and the health insurance industry here in America.

Dementia & Air Pollution

Inhabitat has reported that fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) has been linked to increased dementia risk. In a study that looked at data from two long-running studies in the Seattle area, researchers from the University of Washington discovered that high levels of PM2.5 in the environment corresponded with a greater risk of dementia.

Rachel Shaffer, who was the lead author, said, “We found that an increase of 1 microgram per cubic meter of exposure corresponded to a 16% greater hazard of all-cause dementia. There was a similar association for Alzheimer’s-type dementia.”

“We know dementia develops over a long period of time. It takes years – even decades – for these pathologies to develop in the brain, and so we needed to look at exposures that covered that extended period,” Shaffer also said.

Covid-19 & Air Pollution

It was also identified last year that higher Covid-19 death rates were linked to higher levels of PM2.5. An author of the report said, “we now know that exposure to fine particulate matter puts American people at risk to die from COVID, in addition to everything else we know about the harmful effects of fine particulate matter.” She added, “The most important result is that we found that people living in counties in the US that have experienced a higher level of air pollution over the past 15–17 years have a substantially higher COVID-19 mortality rate. To quantify, we found that a one unit increase in long-term average exposure to fine particulate matter is associated with a 15% increase in COVID-19 mortality rate on average in the analysis. This increase accounts for adjustments for any systematic differences between county level characteristics [such as population density or smoking rates].”

Asthma & Air Pollution — Traumatizing, Extremely Costly, & Deadly

According to the American Lung Association, particle pollution can increase the risk of several diseases, including asthma attacks. PM2.5 can interfere with the growth and work of the lungs, and increase the risk of heart disease and lung cancer. Anyone living where PM2.5 pollution levels are high is at risk.

Scientists from Hiroshima University, the University of California, and the Leibniz Research Institute found that PM2.5 sends the immune system into overdrive and worsens asthma. PM2.5 particles activate the cell receptor AhR, which is found on cells in the organs that have contact with the air such as your skin or lungs. They may have found a breakthrough in learning how asthma is developed.

For me, asthma came when I was 14. One day I was fine, the next I was being resuscitated at LSU Medical Center. It literally came out of nowhere and forever changed my life. Back then, Medicaid paid for everything and I am alive because of this. If I hadn’t been on Medicaid, my mother would not have been able to afford all of the medications, the nebulizer, and the constant hospital visits or therapy I had to endure. I literally had to re-learn how to breathe properly. Things like peak flow meters, spacers, and a variety of inhalers were now a part of my life. Aside from cutting into health insurance costs, the growth of EVs will cut taxpayer-funded Medicaid costs.

A 2019 article in The American Journal Of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine predicted that the projected economic burden of asthma in the U.S is estimated to be just over $300 billion in direct costs over 20 years, and more than $960 billion in both direct and indirect costs.

“Total 20-year direct costs associated with uncontrolled asthma are estimated to be $300.6 billion (95% confidence interval [CI], $190.1 billion–411.1 billion). When indirect costs are added, the total economic burden will be $963.5 billion (95% CI, $664.1 billion–1,262.9 billion). American adolescents and adults will lose an estimated 15.46 million (95% CI, 12.77 million–18.14 million) QALYs over this period because of uncontrolled asthma. Across states, the average 20-year per capita costs due to uncontrolled asthma ranged from $2,209 (Arkansas) to $6,132 (Connecticut).”

As more and more people switch to EVs (the majority of those are Tesla vehicles in the U.S. so far), PM2.5 emissions will drop and asthma will drop.

Tesla vs. Health Care Costs

President Biden has a goal for auto sales to be 50% EVs by 2030. That goal wouldn’t have come about if not for Tesla’s leading role in the electric vehicle market. No matter what models are sold, though, tens of millions of EVs replacing gasmobiles will cut into health care, pharmaceutical, and health insurance costs tremendously.

In short, growth of electric vehicles (led by Tesla) and renewable energy (which Tesla is also a leader in) will cut health care costs, cut the need for pharmaceuticals, and cut health insurance costs as a result.

 
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Written By

Johnna Crider is a Louisiana native who likes crawfish, gems, minerals, EVs, and advocates for sustainability. Johnna is also the host of GettingStoned.online, a jewelry artisan and a $TSLA shareholder.

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