For $10 annually per person we, as a country, could invest in community-based disease prevention programs could save the U.S. $2.8 billion each year in health care costs. The savings could take effect in as little as a year or two according to a study released Thursday by the Trust for America's Health.
I first discovered this in the Baltimore Business Journal, where they point out:
The U.S. could save more than $16 billion annually within five years, or a return of $5.60 for every $1 invested. In that five-year time frame, D.C. could save $57.2 million, Virginia could save $385.1 million and Maryland could save $332.2 million.
The report focuses on disease prevention initiatives that do not require medical care, such as increased access to affordable, nutritious foods, increasing sidewalks and parks in communities, and raising tobacco tax rates.
The study found that reducing Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure rates by 5 percent through such programs could result in $5 billion saved in heath care costs in five years.
Prevention is a loud chorus in the song of health care. While some things may not at first seem to be health care issues, I think we can all follow the logic of needing access to healthy food in order to properly nourish our children. Personally, as a smoker, I'm in favor of the higher tobacco tax. It might help me finally quit.
The study itself is well worth a look, and includes a breakdown of projected returns on a program of this nature broken down on a state by state basis. This excerpt from the report itself helps illustrate why this sort of strategy is important and can produce results that can alleviate the financial stresses that are crippling our system and bankrupting our citizenry:
"Health care costs are crippling the U.S. economy. Keeping Americans healthier is one of the most important, but overlooked ways we could reduce these costs," said Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "This study shows that with a strategic investment in effective, evidence-based disease prevention programs, we could see tremendous returns in less than five years -- sparing millions of people from serious diseases and saving billions of dollars."
In Health Care Reform Now!, George C. Halvorson lays out the numbers on just how much chronic conditions and preventable health issues comprise of our overall health picture. I'll give you a hint. The number is well over half.
Investments in Disease Prevention Yield Significant Savings, Stronger Communities" 00/00/00
photo courtesy of PublicResource.org, used under its Creative Commons license