Your Health: The Cost of Prevention

Friday, June 19, 2009

With all the contentious debate over health care right now, Republicans and Democrats agree on one thing: they want to encourage disease prevention. This stems from the idea that by investing some money up front, you can keep medical costs lower, saving money (and improving quality of life) down the road. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) authored a portion of a health bill focused on prevention and wellness and he sat down with The Takeaway's Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich to discuss his take on health care reform.

Then we turn to Louise Russell. Ms. Russell is a research professor at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Her research challenges the idea that preventive medicine lowers the cost of medical care. The money we are investing in prevention may be doing little to improve the nation’s overall health.

"Much of this prevention does save lives, and that's our purpose here: to save lives. But we need to be spending our money as effectively as possible, and that means we need to look at each preventive intervention and say OK, it's usually going to cost us more. If we need to spend more, what's the most important thing to do for people's health?"
— Professor Louise Russell from Rutger's University on preventative healthcare


Louise Russell and Todd Zwillich

Hosted by:

Katherine Lanpher


Chelsea Merz

Comments [2]


Changing lifestyle can be one of the cheapest forms of prevention. Even as cheap as hamburgers are, salads are still cheaper.

Jun. 19 2009 09:14 AM

It ought to be relatively cheap and easy to do a study of how posting nutrition information affects people's behavior. Based on how much it reduces people's salt, sat fat, etc. intake we can roughly estimate decrease in lifetime medical costs. Just because something is hard to calculate precisely doesn't mean we can't get ourselves in the general ballpark.

Jun. 19 2009 09:13 AM

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