Friday, June 12, 2009

Disease Prevention and Health Care Costs

An article in today's Wall Street Journal titled, "Prevention Efforts Provide No Panacea on Health Costs" by Janet Adamy begins, "There is one idea for fixing the health-care system that lawmakers in both parties agree on: a bigger government role in disease prevention. Yet many previous government prevention efforts aimed at costly chronic diseases have had little success in reducing illness or costs....."

Those two sentences say so much about our federal government.

But if the primary focus of any such "prevention efforts" is personal lifestyle choices, why does the federal government need to be involved at all?

The article goes on to answer that. "One reason cost savings are hard to achieve, according to Prof. Russell, is that.....people have trouble making difficult lifestyle changes, such as taking up regular exercise or eating healthier food."

Have we as a nation really reached the point where going for a jog, or mixing in the occasional apple or salad, or, for that matter, not snacking between meals, is such a "difficult lifestyle choice" that Americans can't do it unless the federal government steps in to play Jenny Craig....
And even that hasn't worked. The attitude seems to be, "let's hit the drive through, and then the doctor's office..."


  1. My understanding is that preventative healthcare lies within reach of the federal government's warm embrace in the realm of public school meals, more stringent taxes on tobacco products, foods bought with food stamps, regulations on the kinds of fats allowed in foods, etc... In NYC, restaurants with a critical number of establishments must publish dietary information on their menus - the effect of the intervention has yet to be evaluated, but I suspect there is a positive impact.

  2. @Kate: I have a tough time thinking that if a restaurant is forced to publish the dietary information on thier menus it is going to have some monumental impact on obesity. Drunks drink, fat people eat. If I'm at Applebee's and have to have them tell me that the butter covererved steak with french fries is not the most healthy choice on the menu there are issues well beyond the imposition of the government on business.

    Do I agree they should control school lunches, of course. Schools and our local and federal should not be there to assist our kids in becoming fat and lazy; US families have already got that position filled. But, outside of where my tax dollars are being pissed away, I would appreciate the government staying away from my chicken fried steak. I aleady ran 3mi today and can take care of myself.