A new report from the Mayo Clinic, an organization of medical experts that provide information and news on health topics, suggests that underage drinking is becoming a major problem in the U.S. According to the report, hospitalizations resulting from underage drinking cost approximately $755 million each year. This presents a major concern for the insurance industry because it is liable for the financial implications of these hospitalizations. Insurers have long held that there is not enough being done to curb underage drinking, but the problem has proven so complicated that any actions taken have marginal impact.
The report claims that more than 40,000 people between the ages of 15 and 20 were sent to the hospital during 2008 as the result of drinking. Approximately 79% of these people were still drunk when they arrived and many were reported to have been driving at some point during their intoxication. The report also shows that 36-71% of high school students have admitted to drinking excessively during parties or other social events.
The report contains geographic and demographic information and highlights areas in the U.S. where underage drinking is taking a costly toll. It may help state governments tune their substance abuse prevention efforts to these areas. It could also encourage insurers to raise rates in these areas as a way to account for the risks associated with underage drinking.