EPA Study Shows Health and Financial Benefits of Clean Air Act

Today’s Managing Health Care Costs Indicator is 160,000

That’s how many lives the EPA calculates will be saved in 2010 by the Clean Air Act of 1990.  The costs of the Act ware around $65 billion, and the financial benefits are calculated to be $2 trillion – an ROI of 90:1. In fairness, these are all the economic benefits - not just health care claims cost savings. 

I bring this up in a blog on health care costs to emphasize the point that public health efforts really work –and they cost very little compared to medical interventions. 

Another happy note – the CDC  reports that 25 states have outlawed smoking in restaurants, bars and workplaces since 2000 -  and predicts that smoking could be banned in restaurants, bars and workplaces in all 50 states by 2020.  This is another no-brainer public health move that can continue to lower health care costs, prevent premature death, and improve overall societal health.   Total cost: close to zero.

Finally, Meredith Rosenthal has an article on the NEJM website comparing the Ryan and the Obama approaches to lowering Medicare costs.  My summary: The Ryan plan shifts costs and counts on patients facing larger bills to lower their utilization, and the Obama plan lowers provider payments.  The Obama plan better addresses the underlying causes of high health care costs, as we have high cost per unit and low utilization compared to most of the developed world. Her summary is below:

Image from NEJM.org.  Click to enlarge