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.