Newsroom

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of ... gold!

October 30, 2011
by Susan Kunferman, director/health officer for the Wood County Health Department
Wisconsin Rapids Tribune

 

We are fortunate to live in a country where we have access to health care and a safe and healthy food supply. We are progressive and fortunate to live longer, healthier lives than people in other countries, right? Wrong.

Compared to other countries, the life expectancy in America ranks 29th. Yes, 29th. People in 28 other countries live longer lives than us.

They must spend more money on health care, right? Wrong again. What the United States spends per person on health care is more than double other industrialized countries. This hits our businessesespecially hard. The annual cost to businesses in this country due to chronic illnesses is $1.1 trillion.

According to Trust for America's Health, "a small strategic investment in disease prevention could result in significant savings in U.S. health care costs." In fact, a recent study concludes that an investment of $10 per person per year on proven prevention programs that increase physical activity, improve nutrition and prevent tobacco use could save our country more than $16 billion annually within just five years. That is a return of nearly $6 for every $1 spent on prevention. That trickles down to a savings of more than $4.5 million in Wood County alone, each and every year, with only a $750,000 annual investment. I wish our retirement accounts were doing that well!

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