Measuring the cost-effectiveness of preventive medicine

Richard A. Kimball, Jr.
5 Mar, 2015 Richard A. Kimball, Jr.

As a society, our healthcare practices have always leaned on a reactive instead of preventive approach. We get sick, we get treatment for the disease. Because of the ever-increasing cost of medical services, we put off seeing our physicians for when we’ve already contracted a sickness. As such, a huge percentage of our healthcare expense is spent on treatment. Many deaths in the past century can be attributed to diseases that are preventable by initiating proper coordination with healthcare specialists. Because of this circumstance, there is a growing need for undertaking a more proactive approach to maintaining our health. Hence, more emphasis has been put on preventive medicine in recent years.

Preventive medicine may come in different forms, such as early detection through screenings, vaccinations and immunizations, and clinicians’ providing health and lifestyle advice to patients. With preventive medicine’s rising popularity, most debates about its benefits focus on its cost-effectiveness.  However, it is difficult to measure the financial benefits of preventive medicine. It is especially hard to calculate cost savings from possible illnesses prevented to justify spending money on preventive medicine, which can also be expensive as is the case of cancer testing. Nevertheless, early detection of such diseases saves one from the massive costs of treatment in advanced stages.

Often overlooked in the debate on financial benefits of preventive care, are the financial gains realized through opportunities afforded by our not getting sick in the first place. On top of the savings from prevented treatments, one must also consider the economic implications of avoiding diseases. For one, it is important to put a value on the future wages of people who were kept healthy (and alive) by preventive medicine, and on the time spent earning a living rather than getting treatment. A healthy person will miss less hours at work compared to a sick person (in the same employment status) and will thus enjoy a higher wage. Preventive medicine also increases life expectancy and helps in improving the quality of life. Healthy people do not need to spend sums on maintenance drugs to preserve their health. Also, healthy people are generally more creative and productive members of a workforce. With better performance in the workplace, they are also more likely to gain promotions and incentives.

Preventive medicine impacts the lives of people in more ways than one. It is akin to investing in ourselves where the payback comes in the form of longer and better quality lives. The question is, is the price tag worth it?

6 Responses

  • Kemp Marg

    I think the price tag is worth it. Going to the doctor on a regular basis is important. Curing an illness early seems to be less expensive than curing it too late. I would much rather miss some work for regular doctors’ appointments than a large chunk of work because I’m too ill to go in.

  • Ggress

    Correct. That supports the old adage that prevention is better cure. But sometimes it is not always true as some illnesses are genetics-based and others are warning signs of an even worse medical condition.

  • Adi

    I think it’s still a long way to go before we can definitely say that individuals will change their perspective on this. It’s very hard to educate people to understand cause and effect from a health perspective. As long as there are instant medications they will see that help is always available.

  • France

    Being healthy is more important than being wealthy.

  • Argenna

    This is going to be expensive, but over time, it’s going to save us a ton of money. I have read some people putting this down, but if you watch some of these videos: http://dev.richardakimballjr.com/videos/, you may change your mind, as I have.

  • Leonard

    Argenna, those videos are fascinating. Richard Kimball really knows his stuff. I think he’s going to change our medical industry for the best. More health updates on https://www.quora.com/profile/Richard-A-Kimball-Jr

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