KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Lifestyle-Related Diseases Will Be Costly Down The Road; Americans Rate Their Healthcare Highly

HealthDay/Bloomberg Businessweek: "Increased efforts to prevent several lifestyle-related diseases could save the United States billions of dollars a year in medical costs," according to a study scheduled to run in the American Journal of Public Health. The study, based on 2003-2005 data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, involved estimating "how reductions in the rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and related conditions would affect health care spending." The authors concluded "that reducing the prevalence of diabetes and high blood pressure by 5 percent would save the nation about $9 billion a year in the near term. In addition, conditions related to those health problems would also be reduced, which would increase the savings to about $24.7 billion a year in the medium term" (Preidt, 11/22).

Bloomberg: "Diabetes or prediabetic conditions will strike half of all adult Americans by the end of the decade unless people drop extra weight," according to a study by UnitedHealth Group Inc., the largest U.S. health insurer by sales. By 2020, the disease will cost the U.S. almost $3.4 trillion, of which more than 60 percent will be paid for by the U.S. government, according to the study. The prevalence of diabetes is growing "as the U.S. population skews older and fatter," said a UnitedHealth executive. Acknowledging that prediabetics can reduce their chances of developing the full disease by losing weight, UnitedHealth is partnering with the YMCA "to help overweight people exercise more, eat better and be more aware of body metrics related to diabetes." First Lady Michelle Obama has also launched a campaign aimed at reducing childhood obesity (Wechsler, 11/23).

UPI: "Americans' self-ratings of the quality of their own healthcare remains high, with 40 percent rating their coverage as excellent, Gallup reported Monday." Similar to the polling agency's previous annual healthcare surveys, "82 percent of Americans rated their healthcare either excellent or good. … Positive evaluations about the quality of healthcare rose with income, from 77 percent among those making less than $30,000 a year to 92 percent among people making $75,000 or more." Since 2006, a higher percentage of people have reported that "they or a family member delayed treatment for cost reasons" than in years prior (11/22). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.