KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Questions Abound About Prevention And Costs

The New York Times Prescriptions Blog reports: "When politicians talk about prevention and health care, they are prone to sweeping statements about how preventive services not only keep people healthy but also save money. ... Nearly 40 percent of all deaths in the United States every year are a result of smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise or alcohol abuse. Preventing those behaviors or reducing their incidence is likely to save money. And one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that putting money toward community-based activities is a good thing, from widening sidewalks so people can get out and walk to getting fresh fruits and vegetables into grocery stores and healthy lunches into school cafeterias. ... But the picture is murkier for other preventive interventions. Very few actually save money. A study published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2006 examined 25 common preventive services and found that just a handful resulted in savings" (Andrews, 8/18).

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