How much is a human life worth?

An uncomfortable economic question during the #coronacrisis - Yes. The majority of coronary patients do not die in intensive care in the Netherlands, but abroad they do. How is that possible?

If your chances of survival are low, you will not end up in intensive care in the Netherlands

According to Professor Ira Helsloot, the government pays during the corona crisisa hundred times more for a year of life wonthan the usual norm. 'It's a political choice, but then you have to be completely transparent about it. '

This is due to Dutch policy: intensivecare doctors only take up a patient if they estimate that this makes sense. 'Proportionality' is called: does the burden of days or weeks lying still, on all kinds of machines, outweigh the chances that the patient will be of any use? Nardo van der Meer, intensivecare doctor at the Amphia Hospital in Breda: “If the answer is' yes', we do it. Even if we doubt. If the answer is clearly no, we won't. We take great care of what the patient and the next of you want. That policy is no different for corona patients.”

Scottish academician June Andrews, a specialist in dementia, noted at a conference in Edinburgh that a pandemic was not a bad thing in some ways because it emptied beds in nursing and hospitals. According to her, the death of the so-called 'bedblockers' with a complete life was an outcome. Of course, the whole country fell over her. 'Wait until you are old yourself, and you will speak differently, 'it sounded on social media. Such a suggestion can be whispered and petit committee, but not publicly said. Especially not by an expert.

Human lives nevertheless have a price tag. The 'monetization' of this is unethical, but it happens because there is not unlimited money available.

For economists, it's a choice problem. Suppose that an investment of EUR 1 million in improving a crossroads (cutting trees that obstruct sight and the installation of pre-sorting strips) reduces the number of road deaths from 20 to 10 per year. And that an investment of 10 million would reduce that number of deaths to six. If a municipality is willing to invest 1 million to prevent ten deaths, but not ten million to prevent 14 deaths, it means that the value of a human life for that year is 100 thousand euros and not 715 thousand euros.