The truth is preventive services will not reduce healthcare costs as a stand-alone plan. There is no simple solution to a $1.3 trillion dollar healthcare problem. The reality is “we” need to be strategic.
The only way to reduce healthcare cost is to offer a multi-tier approach. Offering free services are not enough to resolve preventable chronic diseases. To be strategic, we should target the highest costing and preventable illnesses. There are seven chronic diseases that contribute to the majority of the cost, according to the Milken Institute. A good portion of these costs are preventable.
Every time physicians do a preventive service, there must be additional outreach, education, and monitoring on these diseases for high-risk patients. It’s great to complete your blood pressure screening each year, but if you leave without knowing how to change the outcome of a heart attack, we’ve accomplished nothing.
Offering preventive services are a mechanism to elicit change, it does not decrease cost. For example, every screening conducted for high blood pressure costs roughly $60 according to the American Heart Association, multiplied by the number of members, approximately 313 million, yields an annual spend of $19 billion. This is really a fraction of the overall cost of preventable chronic conditions. For example, the estimated cost of high blood pressure is $76 billion, as reported by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
However, a recent article stated 1 in every 50 people, who received a blood pressure screening that included education on an aspirin regiment, actually prevented a heart attack. This is a significantly positive outcome to reduce healthcare costs.
While we are moving in the right direction, there must be prevention programs to accompany every type of health screening in order to truly reduce healthcare cost.