You can use this to understand enormous sums of money, too:
$1 = one grain of rice
$1000 = cup of rice
$1 million = 8 bags of rice
$1 billion = 3 trailer trucks of rice
$1 trillion = 2 ocean freighters (3,000 truckloads)
$3 trillion (the US healthcare budget) = 6 ships (9,000 truckloads)
When someone says a health improvement project will save (or cost us) $100 million a year, it’s a lot, but think:
- The proposed amount is like 800 bags of rice.
- The US health budget is 9,000 truckloads of rice
Puts it in perspective.
Thanks to @Green_Goddess, Caroline Taylor, CMO of IBM Global Markets, for the visualization, and to @Sasanof for tweeting it. Don’t I love how social media helps ideas spread??
Update next day:
One of my very early blog posts, on my old blog, was on this same subject. March 9, 2009: Comprehending the US healthcare budget. Here are the graphics from that one:
Here’s 100 times as much – a million hundred-dollar bills, $100 million:
Ten of those – a billion:
And a thousand of those – a trillion. Check out the little dude, who’s now in the bottom left corner:
And US healthcare is three times that size.
This helps me, for one, start to comprehend the magnitude of the problem. Something like that does not shrink willingly: lots of people would lose their jobs, including CEOs etc. That’s why I liken US healthcare to “a tumor that doesn’t know how to stop growing and killing its host.”
Go back up and take a look at the size of one million in this picture. Urk.