Study Takes Long View To Analyze Cost Savings From Prevention
A new study raises questions about cost savings from prevention. The Washington Post reports: "Preventive services for the chronically ill may reduce health-care costs, but they are unlikely to generate the kind of fantastic savings that President Obama and other Democrats have said could help pay for an overhaul of the nation's health system, according to a study being published Tuesday."
"Using data from long-standing clinical trials, researchers projected the cost of caring for people with Type-2 diabetes as they progress from diagnosis to various complications and death. Enrolling federally-insured patients in a simple but aggressive program to control the disease would cost the government $1,024 per person per year - money that largely would be recovered after 25 years through lower spending on dialysis, kidney transplants, amputations and other forms of treatment, the study found. However, except for the youngest diabetics, the additional services would add to overall health spending, not decrease it, the study shows."
These findings offer health care reform advocates added ammunition regarding arguments "that the 10-year horizon typically used by CBO analysts is too brief to capture the savings that eventually result from improved public health." The authors suggest that the CBO use a 25-year budget window to calculate prevention program costs (Montgomery, 9/1).
Reuters reports that "the CBO should use methods that would weigh savings from earlier treatment and other intervention that could help reduce costly complications from conditions that arise when left untreated or improperly treated, they said."
"In their model, the researchers used the example of diabetes ... and factored in the costs of complications such as blindness, kidney failure and stroke. ... While such methods would need to be adjusted as treatments change, it could provide the CBO a starting point to look more long term, they said" (Heavey, 9/1).
CNNMoney reports: "More coverage. More choice. Better care. And lower costs. Those are the four goals of health reform. None are easy. But reducing costs is probably the toughest of all, particularly in light of the first three. It's essential: Unless the growth in costs is brought under control, health care threatens to break the budgets of Uncle Sam and millions of Americans" (Sahadi, 9/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.