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June 25, 2009

The Best Ways to Lower Healthcare Costs by Enabling Cheap Disease Prevention and Affordable Cures


The five most costly medical conditions in 2002 for the USA.










The Center for Disease Control looks at the top chronic diseases by deaths caused.

- The medical care costs of people with chronic diseases account for more than 75% of the nation’s $2 trillion medical care costs.
- Chronic diseases account for one-third of the years of potential life lost before age 65.
- The direct and indirect costs of diabetes is $174 billion a year.
- Each year, arthritis results in estimated medical care costs of nearly $81 billion, and estimated total costs (medical care and lost productivity) of $128 billion.
- The estimated direct and indirect costs associated with smoking exceed $193 billion annually.
- In 2008, the cost of heart disease and stroke in the U.S. is projected to be $448 billion.
- The estimated total costs of obesity was nearly $117 billion in 2000.
- Cancer costs the nation an estimated $89 billion annually in direct medical costs.
- Nearly $98.6 billion is spent on dental services each year.

Concentration of healthcare expenses.

-Five percent of the population accounts for almost half (49 percent) of total health care expenses.
- The 15 most expensive health conditions account for 44 percent of total health care expenses.
- Patients with multiple chronic conditions cost up to seven times as much as patients with only one chronic condition.
- The top-spending 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries incurred average per-person costs of $24,800. In this group, 42 percent had coronary artery disease, 30 percent had congestive heart failure, and 30 percent had diabetes.

Existing Cost Effective Prevention

An analysis of the cost of disease prevention methods shows that not all disease prevention is cost effective.

- For every $1 spent on water fluoridation, $38 is saved in dental restorative treatment costs.
- Implementing proven clinical smoking cessation interventions would cost an estimated $2,587 for each year of life saved, the most cost-effective of all clinical preventative services.
- For each $1 spent on the Safer Choice Program (a school-based HIV, other STD, and pregnancy prevention program), about $2.65 is saved on medical and social costs.
- Every $1 spent on preconception care programs for women with diabetes, can reduce health costs by up to $5.19 by preventing costly complications in both mothers and babies.
- Implementing the Arthritis Self-Help Course among 10,000 individuals with arthritis will yield a net savings of more than $2.5 million while simultaneously reducing pain by 18 percent among participants.
- A mammogram every 2 years for women aged 50–69 costs only about $9,000 per year of life saved. This cost compares favorably with other widely used clinical preventive services.






Strategic research investments and accelerated approval of treatments and more effective and cheaper detection would enable a dramatic drop in the costs of chronic disease and increase the rate of cures and improve the health of the population. The diseases are chronic because we do not have actual cures, but can only manage the diseases.

There are possibilities for cheap diabetes cures and/or prevention.

Cancer costs could be greatly reduced with effective early detection when cancer is cheaper to treat and treatments are more effective and new immune system boosting cures and more effective and affordable cancer drugs


The Current Most Cost Effective Screening Tests for Heart Disease
On June 22, 2009Governor Rick Perry of Texas signed HB1290, the nation's first preventive cardiovascular screening bill for early detection of coronary artery disease

The preventive screening [for heart and cardiovascular disease] of asymptomatic [no symptom] men and women could have the following outcomes:

- Prevent more than 4,300 deaths from cardiovascular disease each year in Texas.
- Reduce the history of heart attack– currently estimated to be 1.4 million – by as much as 25 percent in the Texas Population.
- Save approximately $1.6 billion in healthcare costs annually [Texas alone].

The legislation, which will take effect on September 1, requires Texas insurers to pay up to $200 for a either a non-contrast computed tomography (CT) scan measuring coronary artery calcification, commonly known as a Calcium scoring exam, or ultrasonography for measuring carotid intima-media thickness and plaque.

The reimbursement is being made available to men between 45 and 76 years of age and women between 55 and 76 who are either diabetic or who have an intermediate or higher risk of developing coronary artery disease, based on the Framingham Heart Study coronary prediction algorithm. The test may be conducted every five years by a certified laboratory.


New Cheaper Heart and Cardio Health Tests
A new credit-card sized device could provide a way to test people for heart disease using a pinprick of blood. Developed by a team of researchers from Harvard and Northeastern universities in Boston the device can measure and collect a type of cells, called endothelial progenitor cells, using just 200 microliters of blood.

The depletion or ageing of these bone-marrow derived endothelial progenitor cells is a risk factor for vascular disease, as they can enter the bloodstream and go to areas of blood vessel injury to help repair damage. This is because they have the ability to become the cells that make up the lining of the blood vessels (endothelial cells). So the device, which enables the easy collection of these cells, could also bring efforts to create tissue in the laboratory for vascular bypass surgeries another step closer to reality. The device works much more easily than current techniques for collecting endothelial progenitor cells.

Five ways to boost your HDL [HDL stands for high density lipoprotein. It helps the body get rid of bad cholesterol, which protects it against heart disease.]
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