A small investment of $10 per person per year in disease prevention programs that increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and prevent smoking and other tobacco use could save the United States more than $16 billion annually within five years, according to a new report from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a group that promotes prevention. According to the report titled “Prevention for a Healthier America: Investments in Disease Prevention Yield Significant Savings, Stronger Communities,” this return amounts to $5.60 for every $1 spent. Out of the $16 billion, private insurers could save more than $9 billion, Medicare could save $5 billion, and Medicaid could save nearly $2 billion.
“This study shows that with a strategic investment in effective, evidence-based disease prevention programs, we could see tremendous returns in less than five years,” says Jeff Levi, PhD, who is executive director of TFAH.
The economic findings are based on a model developed by researchers at the Urban Institute and on a review of studies conducted by the New York Academy of Medicine. Implementing these programs in communities reduces rates of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure by 5 percent within two years; reduces heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke by 5 percent within five years; and reduces some forms of cancer, arthritis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by 2.5 percent within 10 to 20 years.