Before getting too deep into political jockeying over the new health care law, America’s 112th Congress is due for a reminder of the fiscal wisdom and public health benefits of disease prevention. All told, preventing chronic disease forthright is the sure-fire way to bring down the long-term cost of health care.
According to the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, since the late 1980s, roughly two-thirds of the jump in our health care spending has been due to the increased prevalence of treated chronic disease. Chronic diseases account for about 75 percent of the roughly $2 trillion we spend annually on medical care in the United States. In fact, about half of all Americans already have one or more chronic diseases, which can be blamed, in large measure, on four modifiable behaviors: (1) physical inactivity, (2) bad eating habits, (3) tobacco, and (4) too much alcohol.