Chapter

Prevention vs. Cure

Louise B. Russell

in Prevention vs. Treatment

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199837373
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919499 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199837373.003.0003
Prevention vs. Cure

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Three questions are addressed in this chapter: Does prevention reduce medical costs? Does the U.S. spend too little on prevention? Should it spend more (and if so, on what)? Since much of the evidence comes from cost-effectiveness studies, a brief explanation of how cost-effectiveness analysis is used to evaluate medical interventions is provided. The evidence, from hundreds of studies published over the last four decades, shows that most preventive interventions add more to medical spending than they save, even as they improve health. With prevention, as with so much else, it costs more to get more. Moreover, the U.S. spends considerably more on prevention than commonly thought (see chapter 2 of this volume), even without considering the vast array of preventive activities outside the medical sector. Prevention is not a solution to the health care cost problem. Each intervention needs to be evaluated individually and the goal should be to find the most effective mix of health services, the one that makes the best use of our resources to improve health and extend life, whether through prevention or treatment.

Keywords: cost savings; health care costs; health priorities; prevention; health improvement; life extension; cost; effectiveness

Chapter.  9358 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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