Preventative care yields mixed results in health savings

Despite reports that preventative care can control healthcare costs and ward off diseases, some economists claim that theory is "widely misunderstood," Reuters reported.

A new study from nonprofit Trust for America's Health (TFAH) recommends investing in disease prevention rather than treating people after they get sick, which could save billions in healthcare costs.

"Healthcare costs go down, our local neighborhoods are healthier and provide more economic opportunity, and people live longer, healthier, happier lives," Jeffrey Levi, executive director of TFAH said today in a statement.

However, if 90 percent of Americans use proven preventive services, it would save only 0.2 percent of healthcare spending, according to a 2010 Health Affairs study.

Regardless of data that supports preventive medicine as a cost saver, such care is more about the "right thing to do" than curbing healthcare spending, economist Austin Frakt of Boston University told Reuters.

Still, research last month encouraged preventing chronic disease to reduce the Medicare program's costs. For example, enrolling one cohort into a Diabetes Prevention Program could save $2 billion over 10 years.

Moreover, doctors reported seeing more health problems caused by patients forgoing preventive care, FiercePracticeManagement reported this month.

Amidst the conflicting information, insurers are shifting their focus to preventative care now that more than half of states decided chiropractic care, acupuncture, weight-loss surgery and infertility treatments are among the preventive and alternative care that must covered as essential health benefits in health plans sold through health insurance exchanges.

For more:
- here's the study announcement
- read the Reuters article