Public Health and Cost Savings- Health Cost Containment


Updated 2/1/2018

Cost Containment header
 
The following NCSL Issue brief was distributed to state legislators and legislative staff across the country.

Public Health and Cost Savings- PDF File
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Cost Containment Strategy and Logic
Public health programs, also known as population health,  protect and improve the health of communities by preventing disease and injury, reducing health hazards, preparing for disasters, and promoting healthy lifestyles—the focus of this brief. Healthy lifestyles include good nutrition, regular physical activity, safe sex, not smoking and other individual behaviors to improve or restore health. 
Public health, also known as population health, is concerned with prevention rather than treatment and with population rather than individual health. Examples of public health initiatives include school nutrition standards, community education and screening programs, enhanced neighborhood recreational opportunities, breastfeeding promotion, smoking cessation and prevention programs, and regulation of dangerous and potentially harmful activities such as riding a bicycle without a helmet or drunk driving. Evidence indicates public health programs improve health, extend longevity and can reduce health care expenditures.

Summary of Health Cost Containment and Efficiency Strategies - Brief #14- Public Health and Cost Savings
 
State/Private Sector Examples  Strategy Description Target of Cost Containment Evidence of Effect on Costs
Arkansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Maine, Wisconsin and California Evidence indicates public health programs improve health, extend longevity and can reduce health care expenditures. Public health programs protect and improve the health of communities by preventing disease and injury, reducing health hazards, preparing for disasters, and promoting healthy lifestyles. Extensive research documents the health benefits of more Americans exercising, losing weight, not using tobacco, driving safely and engaging in other healthy habits. Less clear is the effect on total health care costs.

 
Additional Resources

  • Project Purpose and Scope

    The cost of health and health care in the United States for years has been a highly visible topic of discussion for consumers, employers, state and federal policymakers and the media. This NCSL project researched and compiled a series of briefs and regular updates, aimed at a broad audience, providing options and examples of successful and experimental efforts to control health costs.

    NCSL Issue briefs are distributed to legislators and legislative staff interested in health, fiscal, budget,  revenue and related issues across the country. NCSL making the information accessible on its Web site and maintains and updates an easy-to-read table of cost containment strategies.  The original 16-part report series was published by 2012; however the online project continues with more than 25 strategies, using web updates, and technical assistance presentations, and updates through 2017-2018.

    Latest News from States

    Disinvesting In Primary Care?  The Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) released its analysis of 2016 health spending for a group of commercial insurers in Feb. 2018. The report is a trove of information. Buried in the report—in figure 15—is an alarming trend that that author Chris Koller concludes should rise to the top of analysts’ areas for further investigation. How can it be that during an era of increasing focus on health care value, the portion of health spending going to primary care actually went down? Online in Health Affairs Blog, March 14, 2018.*NEW*

  • Return on Investments in Public Health- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 10/11.

About this NCSL project

NCSL’s Health Cost Containment and Efficiency Series described two dozen alternative policy approaches, with an emphasis on documented and fiscally calculated results. Since 2009, the project has been housed at the NCSL Health Program in Denver, Colorado. It is led by Richard Cauchi (Program Director) and Martha King (Group Director) with Barbara Yondorf as lead researcher for the 2010-2012 published reports.

NCSL gratefully acknowledges the financial support for this 2009-2012 publication series from The Colorado Health Foundation and Rose Community Foundation of Denver, Colorado. Current staff continue to minitor and report on cost containment through web-based material and nation legislative meetings.