Cost of Common Colds at $40 billion each year in U.S.

In further proof that statistics don’t mean a thing without context, University of Michigan Health System released a study indicating that the common cold costs the US economy $40 billion a year.

http://www.ivanhoe.com/channels/p_channelstory.cfm?storyid=5512
http://www.med.umich.edu/opm/newspage/2003/cold.htmFirst of all, a philosophical disagreement, then on to the real stuff. What does the cost to the economy matter? The economy is just an indicator of health of industries and employment, not an entity unto itself.

Ok, next. According to the articles, the $40 billion was broken down like this:
$2.9 billion on over-the-counter drugs (a)
$0.4 billion on perscription medication to treat symptoms (b)
$1.1 billion on antibotics (c)
$7.7 billion on doctor’s visits (d)
$20 billion on missed work days (e)

The problems with this breakdown is that the report is adding up all numbers involved, and makes no indication of actual cost to the economy vs. economic gain. For example, a+b+c+d are all injections into the economy and (e) is already built into industry personnel budgets , as well, sick days. This is not an extra cost. Further, a+b+c+d+e = $32.1 billion. And, I guess the other $7.9 billion in a rounding error.

Net cost of colds to the economy: 1 meaningless report.