MINNEAPOLIS Preventative health services, such as daily aspirin use, tobacco-cessation screening and alcohol-abuse screening potentially can save 2 million lives and nearly $4 billion annually, according to a new paper produced by the National Commission on Prevention Priorities.
The paper, “Greater Use Of Preventative Services In U.S. Health Care Could Save Lives At Little Or No Cost,” was published in the September issue of Health Affairs. Its authors analyzed the estimated cost of adopting a package of 20 proven preventative services against the savings that could be generated. They also estimated how much in healthcare costs would have been saved in a given year if 90% of the population had used those services. For 2006, the year selected, the savings were estimated at $3.7 billion.
“By quantifying the many lives saved and high cost-effectiveness of clinical preventative services, our study shows that prevention has really gone the extra mile, meeting a standard rarely met by health treatments,” stated Robert Gould, president and CEO for the Partnership for Prevention, the organization that established the NCPP. “The new healthcare law appropriately makes these services available for most Americans at lower or no cost, but cost reductions alone won’t get us there. We now need health purchasers, insurers and providers to make every effort to improve their delivery and educate the public about these life-saving preventative services.”
Most of the savings came from three services: tobacco-cessation screening and assistance, discussing daily aspirin use, and alcohol screening with brief counseling. The authors determined that those three services plus colorectal cancer screening each would have contributed more than 100,000 years of life if 90% of the population had participated.
“People talk about the importance of prevention, and this study shows that a significant number of recommended clinical preventative services saves lives and sometimes saves money,” said Eduardo Sanchez, chair of NCPP.
The full paper is available on the Partnership for Prevention website, Prevent.org.