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Presidential Debate Over Health Care Costs Highlights Need for Preventive Health Care

DALLAS, Sept. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- As the presidential political debate over health care costs and the need for prevention heats up, one leading prevention authority thinks some economists are not seeing the larger picture. Frederic Goldstein, president of U.S. Preventive Medicine(R), the leader in disease prevention, disagrees with those who believe prevention doesn't pay for itself.

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While Goldstein agrees that as people live longer they may incur more costs, he says there is evidence to support that living healthy doesn't necessarily have to cost more. "Many people achieve a healthy old age because of preventive actions that minimize the occurrence of high-cost medical conditions," he said.

"Prevention means that we're spending our money wisely, not wastefully as our current 'sick care' system does," said Goldstein. "Contrary to the opinion by some that prevention generates higher costs, sound preventive practices by government and employers can actually promote social good, save money and increase employee productivity through reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, in which an ill employee is at work but is unproductive. To be competitive in a global economy, we need a healthy workforce."

Goldstein points to the platforms of both presidential candidates who are looking to some of the same places for cost savings. Specifically, they advocate preventive care so that high-cost medical conditions might be avoided. The candidates also envision the development of health information technology that would simplify billing, prevent duplicative services and inform doctors about the best and most efficient care.

With people over the age of 85 taking the forefront as the fastest-growing population segment, concern is growing over the strain on Social Security and Medicare as well as on doctors and medical facilities. But, Goldstein says there is increasing evidence that the societal burden of longer lives -- it's estimated that by 2050 some 800,000 Americans will have celebrated their 100th birthday -- doesn't have to be so dramatic.

Goldstein points to long-term studies that have shown that how people live their lives accounts for more than half the difference in how healthy they remain long into their lives. For instance, a 25-year study by Dr. Laurel B. Yates of Brigham and Women's Hospital and her Boston colleagues found that of the 970 men who survived until at least age 90 (from a base of 2,357 men who were healthy at an average age of 72), the primary modifiable predictors of longevity were the absence of diabetes, obesity, hypertension, smoking and the occurrence of regular exercise.

The men with exceptional longevity had a healthier lifestyle, a lower incidence of chronic diseases, were three to five years older at disease onset, and had better late-life physical function and mental well-being, noted Goldstein.

About U.S. Preventive Medicine(R):

U.S. Preventive Medicine(R), a privately owned health management company with clients in 23 states and two countries, is focused entirely on prevention. The Company offers employers, government agencies and consumers proprietary products that improve health and productivity while reducing healthcare costs. Company products include: The Prevention Plan(TM), a groundbreaking personalized health and wellness program delivered online and telephonically; The Prevention Plan CM(TM), community-based chronic disease management programs customized for employers and government agencies to reduce healthcare costs; as well as The Prevention Plan Premium(TM), which offers high-tech, early detection services in partnership with a network of physician groups, hospitals and health systems.

SOURCE U.S. Preventive Medicine
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