We Can All Do Our Part To Reduce Health Care Costs

health care costsFit After Fifty reviewed a PBS documentary that aired this week, “Money and Medicine”, asking why U.S. health care costs is so expensive. In an interview, producer and director Robert Weisberg discusses the factors driving up health care costs, often with mediocre medical results, while contributing to our national financial crisis.

“ . . . I think there are a lot of drivers. There’s the aging of our population. There’s technologic innovation and explosion. But I think the biggest single driver is our fee-for-service system that rewards volume instead of value and quantity of medical services instead of quality. And as a result, we end up doing a lot of things that cause more harm than benefit for patients.”

“ . . . one of the major innovations we see in places that achieve high-quality outcomes is that they’re involving patients much more in the medical decision-making process. It takes into consideration patient values and preferences and not just the common-practice patterns that are prevalent in the community. When you give patients truly informed choices, they tend to make decisions that involve less invasive and less aggressive care.“

“ . . . And as we look at medical evidence, comparative effectiveness, and outcomes research, we’re discovering that often places that do less have better health outcomes for their patients.”

Read the full interview here, or watch the video below.

Watch Documentary: Why Does U.S. Health Care Cost So Much? on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Besides giving patients more decision-making control, even moderate levels of fitness contribute substantially to reducing health care costs.

– Medical claim costs were 55% lower among corporate fitness program participants than non-participants over a six year period – an average of $478.61 for participants, versus $869.98 for non-participants at Steelcase Corporation. (The American Journal of Health Promotion, September/October 1991)

– On average, health care claim costs for IBM employees who exercise 1-2 times a week are $350 a year less than those who don’t exercise at all. (BenefitNews.com, March 2006)

– Employees who increased their activity levels from 0-1 times per week to more than 3 times per week reduced their medical claims by an average of $2,202 per year. (Managed Care, 2004)

Clearly, individuals who adopt a fit lifestyle, and who make fully informed decisions about their healthcare, will experience better health overall while reducing spiraling health care costs – not just for themselves but for our nation as a whole.

 

Sources: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/july-dec12/medicine_09-24.html

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