Performance Improvement 2004. Prevention Makes Common Cents


This paper summarizes research findings on the prevalence, effects and costs of some key preventable conditions and highlights several award-winning business prevention programs that make common “cents.” Expenditures for health care in the United States continue to rise and are estimated to reach $1.66 trillion in 2003. Most of the cost can be attributed to the diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and asthma. There is accumulating evidence that much of the morbidity and mortality associated with these chronic diseases may be preventable; however, a much smaller amount is spent on preventing these conditions. For many Americans, individual behavior and lifestyle choices influence the development and course of these chronic conditions. Public and private efforts and programs are increasingly designed to promote healthy behaviors. This study showed: (1) there is clear evidence that the costs of chronic conditions are enormous, as are the potential savings from preventing them; (2) since a large part of the cause of chronic conditions involves attitudes and behavioral choices, the prospect of reducing their prevalence appears both daunting and promising; (3) attitudes and behaviors may be resistant to change, even when the desire to change is there; (4) people encounter significant barriers in their social and physical environments; (5) the actions that would eliminate much of the morbidity and mortality in our country are clear, and to a large extent there are practical measures persons may take. By changing some of their behaviors, Americans could change their personal health status and thereby alter the health landscape of the Nation dramatically. Americans could save themselves, their employers, and the Nation substantial amounts of money if they took certain modest measures (e.g., eat & drink in moderation, abstain from smoking, exercise regularly, etc.).

PIC ID: 7971; Agency Sponsor: ASPE-OHP, Office of Health Policy; Federal Contact: Mazanec, Mary, 202-690-6051; Performer: Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC

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