Health-care costs

August 10, 2008
by Kenneth E. Thorpe
Philadelphia Inquirer

By using the challenge of the uninsured as the focus to examine the plans of Barack Obama and John McCain, The Inquirer misses the actual cause of what ails our health care system: high costs ("No miracle cures," Aug. 3). The high uninsured rate is only a symptom of these costs. Like any symptom, focusing on the uninsured first may provide temporary relief, but the problem won't get better until we treat the cause: high chronic disease and obesity rates, which are annually responsible for $1.5 trillion in health-care costs and lost productivity in the workplace. A focus on prevention would lower costs considerably. For example, according to Trust for America's Health, the United States could save $16 billion annually if it spent $10 per person per year on prevention strategies. We can't overcome the hurdle of the uninsured until we reduce health-care costs, and we can't reduce costs without focusing on prevention and reducing chronic diseases. By preventing and better managing these diseases, we actually make it easier to tackle the important question of how to provide insurance coverage to every American

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