|New Report: Investment In Disease Prevention Could Save America More Than $16 Billion
A small strategic investment in disease prevention could
result in significant savings in U.S. healthcare costs, according to a
new report released today by the Trust for America’s Health
In its report, "Prevention for a Healthier America:
Investments in Disease Prevention Yield Significant Savings, Stronger
Communities," TFAH finds that an investment of $10 per person per year
in proven community-based programs to increase physical activity,
improve nutrition and prevent smoking and other tobacco use could save
the country more than $16 billion annually within five years. This is a
return of $5.60 for every $1.
"Healthcare 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,
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
Out of the $16 billion, Medicare could save more than $5
billion, Medicaid could save more than $1.9 billion and private payers
could save more than $9 billion.
The economic findings are based on a model developed by
researchers at the Urban Institute and a review of evidence-based
studies conducted by the New York Academy of Medicine. They found that
many effective prevention programs cost less than $10 per person, and
that these programs have delivered results in lowering rates of
diseases that are related to physical activity, nutrition and smoking.
The evidence shows that implementing these programs in
communities reduces rates of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure by
5 percent within two years; reduces heart disease, kidney disease and
stroke by 5 percent within five years; and reduces some forms of
cancer, arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by 2.5
percent within 10 to 20 years.
"Prevention for a Healthier America"was developed
through a partnership of TFAH, The New York Academy of Medicine, the
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The California Endowment and Prevention
The report focused on disease prevention programs that
do not require medical care and target communities or at-risk segments
of communities. Examples of these programs include providing increased
access to affordable nutritious foods, increasing sidewalks and parks
in communities and raising tobacco tax rates.
Currently, two-thirds of Americans are overweight or
obese, 1 in 5 Americans do not engage in any physical activity, and 1
in 5 adult Americans smoke.
The savings estimates in the report represent medical
cost savings only and do not include the significant gains that could
be achieved in worker productivity and enhanced quality of life. The
researchers built the model to yield conservative estimates for
savings, using low-end assumptions for the impact of programs on
disease rates and high-end assumptions for the costs. The study is
based on 2004 dollars.
Address: Trust for America’s Health, 1730 M St. NW, Suite 900, Washington DC 20036; (202) 223-9870, www.healthyamericans.org.