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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Obama Makes a Nod to Wellness Programs

According to an article published today in the Kaiser Family Foundation daily report, the US leads the world in preventable deaths.

The study, published by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, looked at 19 industrialized nations and studied death rates from illnesses that could have been prevented through widely available medical treatment, or lifestyle changes. All of the nations that scored better than the US had universal health coverage. The greatest improvements were found in the countries that have reduced smoking, improved diets and increased access to care. Which brings us to... Obama's health plan.

I am particularly interested in whether the candidates mention prevention and wellness as part of their health care solution. To quote Obama's website, "The nation faces epidemics of obesity and chronic diseases as well as new threats of pandemic flu and bioterrorism. Yet despite all of this less than 4 cents of every health care dollar is spent on prevention and public health." Amen. 4 cents of every health care dollar is spent on prevention and public health, yet 70 cents of every health dollar is spent on diseases that are largely preventable through simple lifestyle changes.

This is what Obama proposes: "Support disease management programs. Seventy five percent of total health care dollars are spent on patients with one or more chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Obama will require that providers that participate in the new public plan, Medicare or the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) utilize proven disease management programs. This will improve quality of care, give doctors better information and lower costs."

I would like to see him go one step further if elected, in addition to focusing on disease management ( an after the fact program), focus on preventing people from reaching developing the chronic diseases in the first place. Prevention and wellness are cheap, chronic disease, even if well managed through medication is expensive and as far as I am concerned the only people that benefit are the pharmaceutical companies.

1 comment:

MeritainWellness said...

74 percent of American healthcare costs are due to negative lifestyle-related behaviors, which are preventable. Incentives-based workplace wellness programs are gaining alot of buss lately - for their ability to offer disease management and prevention. Meritain Health developed resources for the development of these programs: http://meritain.com/Home/Resources/MeritainPodcasts
http://meritain.com/Home/Resources/WhitePapers.