Preventing chronic conditions could save up to $54M

As one more reason to prevent chronic conditions from becoming a public health epidemic, new research shows that reducing the prevalence of the chronic conditions by only 1 percent could save $3.6 million a year in California.

What's more, the Urban Institute report finds that California could save $18 million to $54 million if between 5 percent and 15 percent of its government workers prevent chronic illness. However, significant reductions call for "well-designed and targeted interventions," according to researchers.

According to the study, the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) spent $1.6 billion on healthcare in 2008, with $362 million (22 percent) going toward preventable chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

With so many healthcare dollars spent on preventable conditions, California officials recently launched a workplace wellness initiative to help state workers get fit and control skyrocketing medical costs, the Associated Press reported.

In addition to government employers, hospitals and health systems are joining the employee wellness movement, establishing no-smoking rules, enrolling workers into exercise programs and offering healthy foods in the hospital cafeteria to keep their workers healthy.

Such preventative efforts would be well-suited for Southern and Midwestern states, as they hold the highest rates of obesity and chronic disease.  

Largely due to preventable health conditions, the current generation of American children may be the first to not live as long as their parents, according to Georgia Health News.

For more information:
- read the announcement
- here's the report (.pdf)
- read the AP article
- here's the Georgia Health News article