Thursday, April 10, 2008

Is Prevention Cheaper than Treatment?

David Williams over at the Health Business Blog looks at this question and surprisingly answers it saying that studies show it's often cheaper to let people get sick. This perspective comes from a Washington Post article, In the Balance, Some Candidates Disagree, but Studies Show It's Often Cheaper to Let People Get Sick.

I have assumed (apparently wrongly) that creating a model system in the United States focused on prevention would help halt rising health care costs. Although I've not read all the links in David's post I still have to believe that focusing prevention efforts on chronic disease will have a positive benefits. I'm also wondering whether the study took into account the difficulty (and related costs) of getting people to change their habits which in turn results in prevention.

David makes some valid points in his post including his comment that "consumerism, quality and patient safety initiatives will bear fruit." Like David I'm not sure that prevention will solve the cost crisis but I still have to believe that teaching good health habits and preventative efforts especially early on in childhood before bad habits are formed will ultimately lead to cost savings for our health system.

If you are interested in where the presidential candidates stand on a variety of health care issues -- check out the Washington Posts PoliGraph covering topics on healthcare reform, uninsured, drug prices, prevention, technology and stem cell. Interesting graph.


jeisea said...

Hi Bob
I can understand what you're saying. However it is well researched that taking a small dose of vitamin C after orthopedic surgery can prevent the development of a complex pain syndrome. Initial research was on colles wrist fracture and was done in the Netherlands. This simple, inexpensive preventative measure not only saves years of pain and disability, it also has huge financial savings. This preventative measure, although well researched, is not well known. The next time you get a client with CRPS/RSD post surgery I suggest you think about this and its implications. In my case (colles fracture) I wish I had known.

Gabriel said...

Difficult question, here in Australia they try to push a lot prevention, but deep inside, the costs for the goverment only increase every year. So may be it is not working?