Cutting the Fat on Healthcare: An Investigation of Preventive Healthcare and the Fight on Obesity

Maggie Bertucci, Alex Miller, Stephen Jaggi, Steven Wilding, Brigham Young University

Full paper: http://www.kon.org/urc/v9/bertucci.html

Abstract The recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 summons a $940 billion budget focused primarily on providing health care coverage for every American. In 1965, the government had a similar goal, which led to the implementation of Medicare and Medicaid. Unfortunately, these programs ended up costing ten times what was originally estimated. Perhaps this was partially due to the rising rates of disease in recent years, particularly obesity. In order for the government to stay within its current budgetary limitations and for America to sustain long-term control over its health concerns, we feel that there should be a shift towards more preventive care instead of primarily focusing on reactive care (treating the symptoms). We set out to discover if preventive care is more cost-effective than reactive care, limiting our focus strictly to rising obesity rates and its associated costs. In this paper we summarize the current literature on the subject and discuss both the advantages and difficulties of establishing a more preventive approach toward healthcare. We conclude that prevention would extend quality years of life to more Americans at a lower cost than when primarily implementing reactive care. Our main goal in writing this article is to raise awareness of this potential. To illustrate this, we analyzed three preventive approaches: school-based programs, dietary restrictions, and increased exercise. These three examples are effective at reducing obesity and cost-efficient. Together, they serve as the general framework of preventive care upon which more advanced and specific programs can be discussed. 


Introduction In 2006, America spent 2.1 trillion dollars (an astounding 16% of its gross domestic product) on health care, more than any other country in the world (Marmor, Oberlander, & White, 2009). Even with such spending, over 45 million Americans are uninsured and millions of others are unsatisfied with their current health insurance policies (Marmor et al., 2009). There is little doubt that reform is needed. The recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 Bill draws on a massive budget ($940 billion) and primarily focuses on covering more Americans with more affordable health care (Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, 2010). Although these goals are commendable, the rising levels of unhealthy and diseased Americans, specifically those with obesity-related illnesses, cast a shadow on the potential of such reforms. 

Read the full paper: http://www.kon.org/urc/v9/bertucci.html

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