Thursday, January 8, 2009

New GBPI Report Finds Investment in Disease Prevention Could Save $426 Million for Healthcare Payers in Georgia in Five Years

The Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) released a report today examining potential return on investment for public health interventions in Georgia. The report, Prevention for a Healthier Georgia: Investments in Disease Prevention Yield Significant Savings, Stronger Communities, finds that strategic investments in disease prevention could result in significant savings to Georgia's health system and its payers, including employers and the state budget.

Based on a model developed at the national level by the Urban Institute, TFAH and GBPI estimate that an annual investment of $10 per Georgian in community-based programs to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and prevent smoking could generate savings of more than $426 million annually within 5 years. This would amount to a return of $4.77 for every $1 invested. Of the $426 million, Georgia's Medicaid program could see $16 million in annual savings, while private payers such as employers and employees could see savings of nearly $270 million.

"The distribution of the savings suggests that both the public and private sectors should be investing in community-based public health programs in Georgia," said Tim Sweeney, Healthcare Analyst with GBPI. "But monetary savings are only part of the story - healthier individuals and communities mean a healthier workforce and a healthier economy," Sweeney added.

"Health care costs are crippling our economy. Keeping Georgians healthier is one of the most important, but overlooked ways we could reduce these costs," said Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "This study shows that with a strategic investment in effective, evidence-based disease prevention programs, we could see tremendous returns in less than five years -- sparing millions of people from serious diseases and saving billions of dollars."

TFAH and GBPI also released polling data showing Georgian's broad support for prevention investments to address health issues. The polling, performed by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies on behalf of TFAH and the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, found prevention to be a top reason to increase government funding for health issues. In particular, 68 percent of Georgians polled said that "diseases related to obesity" are very important for government to focus on.

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