nonprofits, government, hospitals, and private practice—some of the brightest minds dedicated to making America(and its health care system) healthier. They shared theirbest examples of what has worked and what
work tosave some of the $2 trillion we spend every year. Save bigenough and we could cover the millions of people who gowithout coverage. Here’s how to make it happen.
Common chronic conditions(including coronary arterydisease, diabetes, conges-tive heart failure, asthma,and depression) are respon-sible for
of ourhealth care spending.George Halvorson, chair-man and CEO of KaiserFoundation Health Plan andauthor of
Health Care Re-form Now! A Prescriptionfor Change
, argues that weshould follow the money—and fight these diseaseswith all we’ve got, includingearly intervention andconsistent follow-up care.
If just1 percent of people withthese conditions weresuccessfully treated, wecould shave at least $77 bil-lion off the health care tab.“Diabetes is the fastest-growing disease in Amer-ica,” he says, so focusingon that
could savebillions. “Medicare can besaved if we could cut thenumber of people becomingdiabetic in half.”
The action plan:
Type 2 diabetes, in particu-lar, is a lifestyle disease. Justa simple 30-minute walkevery day, says Halvorson,could help achieve his50 percent goal. We can alltake more responsibilityfor our own health. Start awalking club. If you havediabetes or heart disease,follow up with your doctorand commit to a treatmentplan. Learn more atfightchronicdisease.org.Need more motivation?Check out deathclock.com,suggests Rep. Jim Cooper(D-TN). It lets you see yourstatistical expiration date,given the risk factors of age,weight, and smoking.Medical mistakes kill nearly 100,000 people every year, according to the Institute of Medicine. “That is equivalent to a 747 crashing every other day,” says Denis Cortese, MD,president and CEO of the Mayo Clinic. These errors, more than half of them preventable,cost the United States as much as $29 billion each year.Dr. Cortese thinks the health care system can learn from its mistakes the way the airlineindustry does. If a 747 crashed here, he says, the FAA would swoop in and analyze the acci-dent, check airplanes nationwide, and do everything possible to prevent another accident.