Friday, July 18, 2008

Disease Prevention Programs Worth the Investment

“Community-based health programs aimed at diet, exercise, smoking prevention and other known risk factors for chronic diseases could cut health-care costs in the United States by $16 billion a year, a new report says. ‘We worked with economists at the Urban Institute who looked at health-care costs associated with these chronic diseases,’ said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Washington-based Trust for America's Health, which issued the report. ‘They estimated a 5 percent reduction in these chronic diseases to derive these savings.’ The estimate was based on a model developed at the Urban Institute and a review of studies on the cost and effectiveness of prevention programs by experts at the New York Academy of Medicine. Spending $10 a year per person would save the United States more than $16 billion annually within five years, the economists said, for a return of $5.60 on every $1 invested. Their survey showed that effective prevention programs costing less than $10 per person could reduce rates of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure by 5 percent within two years, reduce heart disease, kidney disease and stroke by 5 percent within five years, and reduce some forms of cancer, arthritis and lung disease by 2.5 percent in 10 to 20 years. Who would pay for the prevention programs? Primarily the same agencies that promote prevention programs now, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other agencies, along with state and local health departments, according to Levi.”

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