In the late 1990s. Congress asked the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate and assess the benefits of the 1970 Clean Air Act. The report looked at the impact of two decades of regulatory compliance that required industries of all sizes to reduce pollution through things like baghouses or the industrial bag filters VA companies produce. The impact on healthcare was noted, and it is reported that almost $22 trillion in healthcare costs were prevented by the regulations.
The Costs of Compliance
Many companies and industries were hyper-critical of the government regulations on operations and processes, with many citing the costs for having to create or implement compliance measures. From the year 1970 to 1990, it is estimated that near half a trillion dollars was spent across the country in order to comply with guidelines. However, the EPA determined that the monetized health benefits from these compliance measures were between $5.6 to $49.4 trillion. For those that love numbers, the benefit-cost ratio of 43.4:1 are unlike any monetary investment performance at a personal level and is worth noting.
The Change in Health
In addition to noting the money that was saved on rising healthcare costs, there was much to be said about how the Clean Air Act changed the health of citizens across the country. There was a change in premature death statistics, which was attributed in part to reducing the amount of particulate matter and ozone in the air. The particulars of the health improvements occurred through modeling that predicted a yearly reduction of 674 cases of chronic bronchitis and 184,000 premature deaths. It was also predicted that the act saved the nation almost 22 million lost workdays due to illness.
The Current Benefits
The Clean Air Act is still having an effect, and the EPA continues to study the impact of the changes. Not only have companies continued to find new ways to reduce emissions even further, but the analysis and modeling software also used to study the benefits or changes has continued to improve in accuracy. Air quality and the relationship between particulate matter and myocardial impact are more visible. By 2020, the Clean Air Act was going to save around 230,000 premature deaths each year, with 280 of those being infants.
By the end of the decade, the impact of the regulations on cases of asthma, bronchitis and myocardial infarction will save approximately two trillion dollars in healthcare benefits. The costs of compliance are minimal compared to the long-term impact on healthcare costs and lives saved.