We all know the key to a smart investment is a good rate of return.
It's a rule of thumb that Congress and the administration have taken to heart in the passage of the Affordable Care Act, adopting the get-the-most-bang-for-your-buck principle to help Americans care for their health in the same way they care for their cars. Created as a provision of the year-old health reform law, the National Prevention Strategy aims to refocus the nation's health system toward preventing disease or catching it early when it is easier and less costly to treat. One of the most important tools in doing so is the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a $15 billion commitment over 10 years to invest in prevention and wellness strategies, such as cancer screenings, vaccinations and tobacco cessation initiatives.
AARP's "Inside E Street" program recently aired a series that highlights the enormous value of proven community-based prevention programs featuring Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, executive director of Trust for America's Health Dr. Jeff Levi and others.
When asked in one of the segments about the return on prevention programs, Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said, "Some of them save an enormous amount of money and some of them save a little bit of money. And for some of them, because they add enormous value to your health and well-being, the investment is worth it."
The bottom line, however, speaks for itself. In an editorial by Benjamin and Larry Cohen, executive director of the Prevention Institute, the two reveal that research shows a 5-to-1 return on investment in prevention in just five years, noting that "at an investment of just $2 billion a year, the Prevention Fund is a bargain indeed."