Can Reform's Prevention Incentives Help to Bend the Cost Curve? (The View from Here) (Column) - Inquiry

Can Reform's Prevention Incentives Help to Bend the Cost Curve? (The View from Here) (Column)

By Inquiry

  • Release Date - Published: 2010-09-22
  • Book Genre: Business & Personal Finance
  • Author: Inquiry
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Can Reform's Prevention Incentives Help to Bend the Cost Curve? (The View from Here) (Column) Inquiry read online review & book description:

On my various trips to Boston for conferences and meetings, I make a point of having dinner with a close cousin. Our conversations invariably turn to the issue of health care and its reform. While hardly an advocate of comprehensive health reform, my cousin has taken the position that reform would be unnecessary if people took care of themselves. More specifically, he sees much of our current health care spending crisis as emanating from our sedentary lifestyles, poor health habits, lack of discipline regarding exercise and food consumption, and failure to follow recommendations for annual physical exams and other periodic preventive care. "The body is like a car," I recall him saying. "You need to maintain it and every once in a while you have to look under the hood." My cousin does have a point regarding our reluctance to comply with good health practices and recommended preventive care, and I suspect that many others feel the same. Indeed, there can be ample personal rewards for such behavior as well as rewards to society at large. In the context of health reform, promoting preventive care and health-enhancing behaviors are part of the arsenal of cost-containment strategies in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), and a recent study sees the use of recommended preventive services as having the potential to reduce loss of life and achieve cost savings (Maciosek et al. 2010). However, in light of the fanfare and push for preventive care and other health-related practices, a critical issue is whether we can expect individuals to respond to reform's incentives for preventive activities, whether the vagaries of human behavior will impede such responses, and most importantly, whether such care can indeed be expected to reliably yield cost savings. In what follows, I explore the issue of whether we should expect incentives for more preventive care to yield substantive savings, and thus to what extent we can expect prevention and good health behaviors to make a meaningful contribution to bending the cost curve.

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