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Home / News & IndustryManaged Care Insight and Analysis
Updated: Jan. 6, 2009
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 (TFAH).

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 dollars."

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 Institute.

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,

  This article was taken from:
The Executive Report on Managed Care

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