Do You Think Preventive Medicine Will Save Money?

Posted on Mar 28 2014 - 10:05am by Mark Yasay


Health insurance is one of the things that can definitely cost a lot, but definitely necessary especially during emergencies or when you suffer health problems. However, instead of availing of health insurance, a lot of people would much rather spend on preventive medicines on the belief that these are effective in avoiding illnesses—fatal or otherwise.

Let’s take a deeper look into preventive medicine and why it might not exactly be the most effective way to prevent health problems:

What is Preventive Medicine?

According to American College of Preventive Medicine, the term “preventive medicine” is defined as the medical practice to keep the patients healthy. It focuses on the overall health of individuals, communities, and defined populations with a goal to promote, maintain, and protect well-being, as well as help prevent disability, diseases,and even death.

The doctors who specialise in preventive medicine are licensed medical doctors (MD) or doctors of osteopathy (DO).They apply knowledge and skills gained not just from the medical field, but also economic, behavioural, and social science  aspects.

DOs often have core competencies in other fields like environmental and occupational medicine, biostatistics, health care organisations, planning and evaluation of health services, and epidemiology. Most of them also studied about the management of research into causes of disease and injury in population groups, and the practice of prevention in clinical medicine.

Does Preventative Healthcare Save Money?

The truth is, not all sickness or illnesses can be avoided or cured by preventive medicines. However, annual physical examination and cancer screenings for diseases such as ovarian cancer,PSA tests for prostrate, or testicular cancer can help the people to save money.

Is Preventative Care Effective?

According to top health economists, there are preventive services that can indeed save lives. Preventative care is cost-prohibitive when an illness is detected before it gets malignant. Earlier detection can help save money and improve the health condition of the patient through the administration of proper treatments.

Preventative Care Cost Savings

In an article from Reuters, economist Austin Frakt of Boston University was quoted as saying that preventive care is about doing the right thing because “it spares people the misery of illness.”However, preventive care can be costly and most people can’t afford it, he adds.

Medical Costs and Preventive Care

Currently, about 75% of healthcare spending in the US is designated for preventable chronic illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes. Groups like non-profit organisation Trust for America’s Health have been pushing for the government to raise funds for preventive medicine, emphasising that the government can save up to $2.7 trillion on healthcare spending if more focus is shifted to preventive care, rather than treatment of preventable chronic diseases.

“But it’s not plausible to think you can cut healthcare spending through preventive care. This is widely misunderstood,” Frakt argues

Health economists argue that prevention costs a lot as well, and would amount to very little savings for the government—if any, at all—especially when given to people who won’t really benefit. It’s also yet to be proven if preventive care can actually prevent chronic diseases.

Future for Preventive Care

Preventive care can still be administered where it’s most beneficial; such as in detecting early signs of illnesses that can be fatal when not treated immediately. Preventive medication should be redefined by combining the useful screenings and educational interventions, which are proven to be effective for saving not just money but can also save lives.

Preventive care or not, people must learn to switch to healthier lifestyles to significantly lower health risks. A patient-centred approach as the new standard of care can work, but there needs to be a smart and pragmatic prevention strategy. This can be done through patient empowerment, education, and self-efficacy.

About the Author

Mark Yasay is the Online Marketing Manager of MoneyHero, a comparison site in Hong Kong that helps residents find the best value for the financial services and products they need. He also provides free financial advice that supports individuals and empower them to meet their financial goals and attain financial freedom.