Healthy living could save U.S. $1 trillion, study finds

The rapid rise in preventable chronic diseases — such as obesity and heart disease — over the last 20 years is hurting U.S. economic productivity, escalating treatment costs and causing unnecessary suffering, a new report says.

That’s the bad news.

The good news, according to the report by the Santa Monica-based Milken Institute, is that the trend can be turned around with healthy doses of prevention and early detection.

The report comes amid a national debate over healthcare, what it should include, and who should pay for it — including government, private insurers, individuals and employers.

The Milken report is part of growing pressure at the same time to allocate more health dollars for prevention and early detection — rather than just treatment.

Currently Medicare, the government’s health insurance program for seniors, and private insurers tend to pay more for surgeries and treatment procedures than for prevention counseling in a physician’s office.

Such payments are rooted in the healthcare needs of the population when the payment plans began decades ago.

The Milken Institute, a private economic think tank, joins a growing chorus of researchers and public health experts contending that such a system no longer serves the nation because the population is aging and because the incidence of obesity and preventable diseases among Americans of all ages, including children, has risen alarmingly in recent years.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

19 comments on “Healthy living could save U.S. $1 trillion, study finds

  1. Wilfred says:

    Got Milken?

  2. DonGander says:

    What is the most appalling to me is the reason for such studies:

    “The report comes amid a national debate over healthcare, what it should include, and who should pay for it — including government, private insurers, individuals and employers.”

    Who should pay for it? And thus, what causes of cost should become politically incorect? I intimately know the dangers of government intervention in this area because I deal directly with the US Department of Transportation, whose duty is to maintain safety on our roads but who, instead, sometimes propagate rules that are very hazzardous to all driver’s heath.

    Aside from that pragmatic worry, what US Constitutional provision allows our government to inject themselves so intimately into our lives?

    I fear for this country.

  3. Charles says:

    #2 – Those of us who have lived in countries with socialized medicine (France, Canada, the UK) would strongly disagree with you.

    I have a high-deductible insurance plan with a Health Savings Account right now, and would go back to France’s system in a heart beat if I could.

  4. BillS says:


    You can. Move back to France. Obviously you are here rather than there because there are other things that you prefer here in the totally of your life than living there.

    Point is, we all make trade offs. Free health care. Sounds wonderful. Like free steak and beer. But, there is a cost, like higher taxes to pay for it, and unavailability of certain procedures at any price. Fewer choices of providers. In some situations this may be worth the cost. For most of us, it will not be.

    Somehow we expect the Federal Government, accused of inadequate response to Katrina and allowing horrendous conditions to occur at Walter Reed, will suddenly become efficient and virtuous when put in charge of National health care. As bad as the current system is, the one that is worse is one run by the federal government.

    Prevention sounds fine. How to enforce it? Will Bill Clinton come knock on my door to ensure that I am up and out the door for my morning jog, and throw away my Krispy Kreme donuts while he is at it?

    As P J O’Rourke says, if you think health care is expensive now, just wait ’till it is free.

  5. Charles says:

    When we pray “thy kingdom come”, we are praying (amongst other things) that our society would be a more kingdom-like place. Christ commands us to care for the poor, the widowed and the orphaned. Yes, we as Christians are called as individuals to this higher calling, but you know what, I expect [b]everyone[/b] in our society to contribute. My response is not to move back to France, but to campaign for a just society here.

    You’re exactly right: free health care will be expensive. I’m willing to pay higher taxes to help subsidize health care for the poor. Are you?

  6. Reactionary says:


    The poor already have free medical care. It’s called Medicaid.

    What is being attempted is the socialization of the risk of being old and getting sick. Since you are certain to become old and get sick, there is no economically viable way to socialize this risk. Premium payments and taxes must approximate the cost of the casualty itself, and this subsidized demand leads to ever-increasing costs. The West is trying to fix this problem by importing immigrants. But we are finding out that immigrants are not moving here to pay taxes or insurance premiums, and immigrants get old and sick too.

    Americans are just going to have to rethink health care and ultimately, to rethink how they will treat their terminal illness. We need to stop running to doctors for an antibiotic at the first sign of a sniffle. We need to find compassionate ways to reduce medical expenses in the last six months of life. And, of course, we need to eat less and exercise more.

  7. DonGander says:

    5. Charles:

    When you say:

    “When we pray “thy kingdom come”, we are praying (amongst other things) that our society would be a more kingdom-like place.”

    I would suggest that this may well be why christianity is dieing in Europe. To think that a secular institution would accomplish God’s work, which He commanded of His Church, is the antipathy of love.

    In the same prayer that you quoted Jesus also said “lead us not into temptation…” but, what you advocate leads the masses into a variety of temptations and evil.

  8. Charles says:

    #7 – what I advocate leads the masses into a variety of temptations and evil? Please explain.

    To think that the government can [i]help[/i] in accomplishing God’s work is the antipathy of love? Forgive me, but I don’t get it.

    #6 – I am all about finding compassionate ways to reduce medical expenses – not only in the last six months of life. Eating less and exercising more – YES! Tax breaks for people with a healthy BMI (unless they have a doctor-signed-off medical reason for being overweight), placing additional taxes on certain fast food items and other junk food (same reasoning as additional taxes on cigarettes)…

  9. DonGander says:


    You ask, “what I advocate leads the masses into a variety of temptations and evil?”

    In this country there was, when I was young, many, many benefit hospitals instituted by christians to assist the poor. As a result of greed and intervention by the federal and state governments, nearly all of them have turned into for-profit institutions. I assume that you would see this as a great evil, as I do. Well, the same evils and interventions we have seen so far will only be exacerbated by further state control of our medical institutions. The greed and struggle for “rights” will only increase in both the political and social arena.

    Really, though, if you do not understand my middle paragraph, my attempts to answer other questions will be unprofitable.

  10. Charles says:

    I’m being genuine in not understanding that the government helping in accomplishing God’s work is the antipathy of love…

    How is the government being involved in social justice the opposite of love? Please help me to understand.

  11. BillS says:


    The problem is that the government is incapable of social justice. The government takes money at the point of a gun from one group of people and gives it to another. Clearly the people receiving the money have a good deal. Whether they are deserving of money taken from someone else is where the debate starts.

    You seem to want to solve problems that you perceive with someone else’s money. Spend your own money as you please, and truly God bless you for the work that you may do to relieve suffering of the poor and the distressed. However, most of us are and should be capable of looking after our needs without the heavy hand of government.

  12. libraryjim says:

    Bumper sticker:
    If the opposite of [i]pro[/i] is [i]con[/i]
    What is the opposite of [i]progress[/i]?

    yep. That about says it. Anyone who looks at Congress and thinks they can manage healthcare any better than they handle education, public transportation, and balancing the budget (among other things) is living in ‘fantasy land’.

  13. magnolia says:

    charles, i share your opinion on this.

    to everyone else: agreed that government is inefficient. however someone needs to step in and do SOMETHING. would you prefer to leave all those people to rot?? God forbid that you would ever be in a working poor man’s/woman’s shoes….yah, some people do take advantage and we should guard against that, but some people are TRULY destitute through no fault of their own or made mistakes and used bad judgment and yes, i think it is our Christian responsibility to care for our FELLOW CITIZENS as best we can.
    disclaimer: this opinion excludes illegal immigrants.

    ” but, what you advocate leads the masses into a variety of temptations and evil.”

    i disagree; we have already succombed to temptation. it is a direct result of too much telly, the fast food industry selling us crap and supersizing everything, our misguided belief that food should be cheap, and the lack of sidewalks and expansion of urban sprawl where we have to drive everywhere instead of getting off our duffs and walking. yes, personal responsibility is key; but it seems to me that the human condition has always been to take the easy way out and quite frankly some people just don’t know any better. education would help, and who better to do that en masse except the government?

    charles, as long as someone is making a profit from our illnesses i think we will never see a change in policy. insurance companies and drug makers will never allow anything to touch their profits. besides now we are so into debt we REALLY can’t afford it now…so much for all that blather of fiscal responsibility touted seven years ago.
    thanks for listening to my opinions.

  14. Charles says:

    #12 – you said, “Anyone who looks at Congress and thinks they can manage healthcare any better than they handle education, public transportation, and balancing the budget (among other things) is living in ‘fantasy land’.”

    I’ve lived in a country where the vast majority of people think the government [i][b]can and does[/i][/b] handle most of these issues at least reasonably well. Perfectly? Of course not! Better than the present system? By far. If our Congress can’t handle it, we need to elect new people. I’m not advocating that we emulate some other country; I believe that a context-specific solution is best. Meaning that we’ll never have the French health care system here. We’ll have an American one, whatever it looks like.

    It’s the whole profit thing that bothers me about our current system. People make hordes of money when we get sick. Let’s do some mass education, over a long period of time, on how to live a healthy life. Let’s give some heavy financial incentive for those who do and heavily tax those who don’t.

  15. Bob Lee says:

    Agree with BillS in #4.
    And to Charles in #5: We ALREADY ARE subsidizing healthcare for the poor. And, it’s not just a matter of paying for it…..if the government gets hold of it, the quality will go down. So, then you are paying more than you are now, and you have to wait 6 months to start treatment for your cancer. Oooops! You’re dead before they start treatment. Oh well…..saved the “State” some money.


  16. ann r says:

    No matter how healthy your lifestyle, eventually you will age and suffer the debilitating illnesses that lead to death. It’s inevitable. Folks who write stuff like this tend to forget that we are all mortal, and that mortality will be 100% eventually. If the death rate from cancer or heart disease goes down, the death rate from something else will have to go up. I’m all in favor of a healthy lifestyle, but frequently disagree with what is being pushed by government agencies. Flu shots, for example, seem to me to be a farce. Generally it seems the virus that shows up strong is not the one included in the shot. Hormones prescribed to prevent bone loss increase the chance of certain cancers, and so on…. Government seems to generally mess things up rather than fix them. And what about the freedoms we are supposed to enjoy? In the UK folks are being denied health care if their lifestyle doesn’t pass pc muster.

  17. libraryjim says:

    Everytime I get a flu shot — I get the flu! If I’ve not gotten the shot — I get the flu! So I say, “I’m going to save the $20 and not get the shot!” because either way, I’m going to get it.

    the U.K. recently announced that they were going to try to [b]reduce[/b] the wait time for critical care patients to [i]only[/i] 18 weeks from referral to treatment. And that is an IMPROVEMENT, people! Are you sure we want this for OUR country?

  18. Reactionary says:


    People make hordes of money over the fact that we get hungry and thirsty but there are no famines and no children with distended bellies in the US. In fact, poor people from elsewhere will risk their lives to be poor people in the US.

    Insurance, whether public or private, is a terrible way to pay for anything. Medical care is particularly problematic because as a risk approaches certainty, the premium must rise to cover the cost of the casualty itself. A free market in medical services is the only way to enable the universal demand to drive down costs thru competition.

  19. libraryjim says:

    A friend of mine has for his ‘sig’:

    Eat right, get fit, die anyway.

    LOL, it’s true!