Adopting simple, proven preventative practices could save Americans billions in health care costs per year and allow most to live longer lives. Nurses trained in basic screenings and counseling can have profound impacts. To learn more, checkout this infographic below created by the University of San Francisco’s Online Master of Science in Nursing program.
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There are exactly 20 proven preventative services, which aim to eradicate serious diseases and screen for various health risks and concerns. Some of these popular preventative services include childhood immunizations, and screenings for cancers, cholesterol levels, depression and hypertension. Rest assured that the majority of health plans must now cover a set of preventive services at no cost to you—but it is important to remember that this initiative is still in its infancy.
One prominent key preventative service is tobacco cessation. Smoking cessation services commonly involve connecting a smoker with a counselor, so he or she can work to identify specific smoking triggers, as well as undergo behavioral therapy combined with nicotine replacement. The idea behind this program is enabling the smoker to quit before serious tobacco-related illnesses set in.
Other key preventative services include screening and therapy for alcohol abuse as well as the implementation of a daily regime of aspirin for patients who fall into the high-risk category for a heart attack. In fact, researchers suggest that if 90 percent of the population had access to the above described procedures, each single intervention would result in more than 100,000 life years saved.
Additionally, statistics indicate that for every three out of four interventions (to include alcohol, tobacco, abuse screening and aspirin) have contributed to more than $1 Billion to net additional medical savings. While this is certainly an impressive figure, there must be a push for increased access.
A new idea:
Believe it or not, the notion of providing preventative services is a relatively new one, and before the year 2012, only half of United States adults received or had open access to these types of services.
Unfortunately, data still shows that the cost of preventative services tends to create a major disparity. Essentially, the high cost of medical services in general (this could include anything from routine tests, specialist appointments, medicines, various exams, etc.) has the ability to scare many in need of life-saving services away—especially those who are uninsured or belong to lower income populations. For example, while breast cancer screenings have shown to save nearly 45 years of life per 10,000 people per year, the average of $61 per year for the actual screening may not be financially feasible for many people. The same goes for childhood immunizations and valuable smoking cessation programs.
The only solution to this problem is to increase the use and access to life saving preventative services.
One way to accomplish this goal is to increase the number of physicians, nurse practitioners, and RNs who provide these types of services. While this will provide an instant boost, it is only half of the solution. In addition to adding more medical providers, there must also be additional systems in place that identify at risk individuals.
Again, while this may initially appear daunting and complicated, the cost is truly minimal. In fact, the marginal delivery cost of making preventative services available to 90 percent of the entire United States-based population will only require one percent of current health care spending. Yep, you read that correctly—just one percent!
Keeping that figure in mind, it is suggested that the implementation of these preventative care programs would result in an annual cost savings of an impressive $61.9 billion.
So how does spending money on care actually save us money down the road? That’s an easy question to answer. Think about it—if you equip a long time smoker with the tools they need to identify the dangerous triggers to their smoking, enabling them to extinguish their bad habit forever, there is a high likelihood that individual will not develop deadly diseases like COPD or lung cancer, which requires major medical intervention, expensive drugs and long, often painful hospital stays. The same goes for babies who are vaccinated at an early age. Thanks to their vaccinations, they will not contract diseases that are not only life threatening, but incredibly costly to successfully treat.
Regardless of how this service implementation is scaled, the additional cost of widespread preventative care services would result in a virtually unnoticeable portion of existing health care spending. In the long run, providing a large population with services aimed to address medical issues before they have a chance to fully develop, would not only eventually be cost neutral, it would save a myriad of lives. Perhaps just as important, this would educate the greater population on how to improve their overall health, behavior and well-being.