The surest way to control costs in healthcare? Live well.
As a physician, I know how frustrating it is to look into the eyes of a young patient and tell her she has Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, knowing that these conditions could have been prevented or at least delayed. It's a tragic waste; not only would she be healthier and happier, but her health care would not cost nearly as much.
Unfortunately, this scenario plays out all too often in American medicine. Preventing diseases before they start is one of the most common sense ways to keep people healthy, but this nation continues to focus too narrowly on treating medical conditions after they occur.
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A disproportionate share of the $2.6 trillion we spend on health care each year goes toward treating the sickest people--covering mostly high-cost hospital care for preventable chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Health care spending and lost productivity tied to smoking alone, for example, totals over $193 billion a year. It is estimated that obesity rates are responsible for $34.3 billion and $27.6 billion in additional spending in Medicare and Medicaid respectively, and $74.6 billion in higher spending by private health insurers.