CALGARY, June 19, 2013 /CNW/ - Canada's approach to health care is
primarily focused on treating people downstream, or when they become
sick. An unanticipated consequence of Canadian medicare is that we have
made illness and disease a growth industry and we are struggling to
keep up with demand. The solution to our problem is not bigger
hospitals and more doctors to treat an ever increasingly unhealthy
population but to focus on preventative health care, with upstream
investment in health promotion to prevent people from getting sick in
the first place.
A report published today by The School of Public Policy evaluates the
costs and benefits of this alternative approach by examining a unique
large-scale philanthropic preventative health-care program run by Pure
North S'Energy Foundation. The Pure North program pays for and provides
personalized preventative health care services including lifestyle
counseling, dietary supplements and dental services for Albertans drawn
from groups that are vulnerable to poor health.
Report authors Herb Emery, Ken Fyie, Ludovic Brunel and Daniel Dutton
find the program has achieved positive health outcomes for its
participants, and at a cost of $2,300 per participant, it is far less
expensive than treating people once they become sick.
"The annual health-care bill for a Canadian in poor health is estimated
to be more than $10,000 higher than for someone in good health, meaning
that keeping people in good health can be an important means for
controlling public health-care budgets," the authors write.
They go on to explain that if the program were scaled-up province-wide
to cover the nearly quarter-million Albertans in poor health, the
resulting health improvement seen in program participants could
translate into a nearly 25-per-cent reduction in hospital days used by
Alberta patients every year and a net savings of $500 million on
hospital and physician costs. This number does not include the
potential economic benefits of keeping workers in better health and
productive, while spending fewer days ill or hospitalized.
With these types of gains to be had, and governments struggling to find
budget room for mounting health-care costs, the authors stress the need
for more preventative health care. Currently, people are left to seek
out health promotion and disease prevention services through private
means. But the authors suggest preventative care could be integrated
into the public system.
The report can be found at www.policyschool.ucalgary.ca/publications
SOURCE: The School of Public Policy - University of Calgary
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