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Disease Prevention Could Save U.S. Billions of Dollars Annually

MONDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Increased efforts to prevent several lifestyle-related diseases could save the United States billions of dollars a year in medical costs, researchers say.

Using 2003-2005 data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the investigators estimated how reductions in the rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and related conditions would affect health care spending.

The findings were released online Nov. 18 and are scheduled to be published in the January print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The study authors concluded that reducing the prevalence of diabetes and high blood pressure by 5 percent would save the nation about $9 billion a year in the near term. In addition, conditions related to those health problems would also be reduced, which would increase the savings to about $24.7 billion a year in the medium term.

"Our estimate that $24.7 billion in excess medical spending would be avoided annually if primary prevention were able to achieve a 5 percent reduction in only the conditions we examined can be considered a conservative estimate of the investment in prevention activities that could be offset by medical care savings alone," the researchers noted in a news release from the American Public Health Association.

Although further research is needed to determine the costs and confirm the benefits of primary disease prevention, the "large potential savings to government health programs may provide justification for public investments in this research," they added.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians explains how common behaviors affect your health.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Public Health Association, news release, Nov. 18, 2010

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