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.