An ounce of prevention…

We’ve blogged before about the difficult question of wellness and whether or not it actually helps to contain costs. The New York Times picks up on this with a recent story about disease management. Here’s an excerpt:

Though chronic ailments like asthma, diabetes and heart disease consume a disproportionate share of health care costs, many critics are skeptical about the potential of improved care alone to reduce expensive hospitalizations and cut costs.

“I think it would be optimistic to assume these programs alone are going to be the savior of the cost issue that we’re challenged with,” said Robert Parke of the actuarial firm Milliman Inc., who is a member of the American Academy of Actuaries’ working group on disease management.

“That’s not to say we shouldn’t be doing them,” he went on. “Even if they don’t save you money, even if they break even, they still might be the right thing to do because they’re improving the quality of care. But there’s a cost involved in managing them, and the savings may be more than offset by those costs.”

He and other experts noted that Medicare’s efforts to stem costs through chronic disease management and care coordination among the elderly were largely unsuccessful, leading instead to higher fees.

For more on disease management, click here.