With all the hullabaloo over risk classification involving zip codes (which is really urban vs. rural), income and occupation, we now have the potential for religious people to get lower life insurance premiums. According to this article there is a positive relationship between regular church attendance and life span. I am sure the army of consumer advocates will be all over any insurer which attempts to make a risk classification based on church attendance — even it is supported by evidence. It probably discriminates against the ungodless which would probably be a protected class under some state’s law. Realistically, it is not likely to be used as there is no real objective, cheap, and unobtrusive way to support this risk classification. Maybe the Knights of Columbus know something we don’t!
What is interesting about the conclusions of the researcher is that exercise is still the cheapest way to increase your life span. Exercise is cheaper ($4K per extra year of life) than statin therapies ($10K per extra year of life) or regular church attendance ($7K per extra year of life).
These numbers seem off to me.
I take a statin (which cost about $1000–1500 for prescriptions and blood tests), my round trip to church is about 6 miles at 30 miles per gallon, $.45 per mile IRS depreciation, and 60 trips (Sundays plus various Holy Days of Obligation, confession etc). This comes out to under $200 for the whole family. So, just for me it is about $40. Of course, I don’t charge God my opportunity cost of time, but I wonder the researchers get the $7K amount. Perhaps it includes the tithe. Thus, we have the issue is whether its the church going or the tithing which increase the life span.
Exercise is still pretty cheap for me. It is just my time and the occasional new pair of running shoes … and again, I don’t charge myself my opportunity cost because I am investing in my health. I suppose I could kill two birds by running to church to reduce the cost of an additional year of life even further, but I’d probably cause a negative externality on my fellow communicants lessening the likelihood that they'll go to mass and therefore reducing their chances for living longer. Alternatively, I’ll stay at the back of the church or, worse, I’ll stay outside! Even my family wouldn’t want to sit next to me.
Update: Actually, on the way to church this morning I realized that I should count the opportunity cost of the time I exercise as I could be doing something else. If I were to use my hourly rate, I couldn’t afford to exercise (heh).