Monday, August 3, 2009

Does preventive care really save money?

Obama has made a lot about preventive care in his push for healthcare reform. Physical exams and screenings will help prevent disease and save money in the long run. Right?

Well, it turns out the Congressional Budget Office hasn’t found any savings in any of the health proposals that can be attributed to increased preventive efforts.
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In an interview with NPR this week, former CBO health analyst Joe Antos, now at the American Enterprise Institute, says preventive services, in fact, often cost more. For cancer screenings, for example, millions of people are screened, and both true positives and false positives are picked up. Then, all of those patients have to be followed up, which costs even more, he said. So the screening doesn’t work unless you narrow it down to the right patient population.

Perhaps. But what about other less costly preventive services? Other health advocates say strategies such as those aimed at reducing expensive health problems such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, are proven to work, but need to be more broadly deployed.

All of this seems like a philosophical debate when you consider most primary-care doctors are saddled with increasing patient loads and declining reimbursements. Is preventive care even possible?

In our recent article exploring preventive medicine, we found it may still be possible with some serious organization, using the right and often forgotten preventive care codes, and streamlining patient communication.

What do you think? Is preventive care possible? Will it wind up saving money, or is it more a matter of the right way to approach healthcare?

1 comment:

  1. Cost-effective, evidence-based preventive care will require those scary "medical experts" that everyone fears so much deciding about what preventive care should be "rationed" to those that "deserve" it. Can America handle that?