Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Too much month at the end of the money

With Congress poised to cut benefits of many food stamp recipients by $90 a month, as a "compromise", it's worth noting what actually happens to the lazy moochers when their benefits don't last the month.

People with low incomes generally get most of their benefits near the beginning of the month, and run out of money before the end. People with diabetes who are taking medications to lower their blood sugar, but who don't eat, get hypoglycemia -- acute low blood sugar -- a medical emergency which can result in brain damage or death.

It turns out, according to the linked study, that hospital admissions of low-income people for hypoglycemia in California increase by 27% in the last week of the month. This doesn't happen to high income people, and it doesn't happen for conditions that aren't triggered by starvation. The authors don't translate this rate into raw numbers, so I can't tell you exactly how much this costs, but a back of the envelop calculation tells me the number is many hundreds per year, at least. The average cost of a hospital admission is about $10,000. You could feed a lot of people with that money.

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