Do Prevention Programs Save Money? CBO Says ‘No’
The Congressional Budget Office has so far "failed to attribute any savings to increased efforts to provide preventive efforts like stop-smoking programs," challenging the notion that preventive care saves money for the health care system, NPR reports. "Former CBO health analyst Joe Antos, now at the American Enterprise Institute, says preventive services often cost more than they save. In screening people for cancer, for example, he says, 'you screen literally millions of people, sometimes at fairly high cost per screen. You'll pick up some true positives, people who really have the disease. You'll pick up some false positives.' Then all those people have to be followed up by the medical system, which costs even more money."
But Rob Gould, president and CEO of the Partnership for Prevention, "says his group looked at 25 clinical preventive services that were recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force," and found that six of them saved money. Another 12 were highly cost-effective, meaning "the intervention cost less than $50,000 per added year of life." Ken Thorpe of Emory University adds: "'On the prevention side, at least in the congressional proposals, there is not a coherent, effective prevention strategy really designed to prevent disease in the first place.'" (Rovner, 7/28).