Some key policy changes that need to be made in the United States in order to prevent illness and improve the health of millions of Americans have just been outlined in the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) latest Healthier America report.
The report includes a range of suggestions that focus on the prevention of chronic diseases, which currently affect more than half of the U.S. population. This would also help address the health problems facing today’s youth who are set to be the first generation that are less healthy than their parents.
Gail Christopher, DN, President of the Board of TFAH, said:
“America’s health faces two possible futures. We can continue on the current path, resigning millions of Americans to health problems that could have been avoided or we invest in giving all Americans the opportunity to be healthier while saving billions in health care costs. We owe it to our children to take the smarter way.”
The U.S. is currently tackling a huge problem with obesity, in fact, researchers from the University of Oxford and Columbia University predict that if the current trend persists, by 2030 half of all Americans will be obese – a major cause of chronic disease. Drastic policy changes are going to be necessary to put a stop to trends such a this.
The recommendations involve some new and innovative approaches:
- Implementing a series of foundational capabilities to improve the country’s health system as well as restructuring public health programs with sustained funding.
- Establishing partnerships with nonprofit hospitals to develop new community benefit programs and expand support for prevention.
- Encourage that insurance providers compensate for all types of prevention strategies
- Ensuring that the Prevention and Public Health Fund continues and improve awareness of the Community Transformation Grant program.
- Maintain workplace wellness programs with employers as well as local and state governments.
Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH, said:
“Prevention delivers real value as a cost-effective way to keep Americans healthy and improve their quality of life. Everyone wins when we prevent disease rather than treating people after they get sick. Health care costs go down, our local neighborhoods are healthier and provide more economic opportunity, and people live longer, healthier, happier lives.”
The report also includes information about recommendations that are already in action:
- The Accountable Care Community (ACC) brought more than 70 different partners to help patients with type 2 diabetes in and out of the doctor’s office. The ACC managed to reduce the cost of care by more than 10 percent per month for patients with type 2 diabetes – meaning savings of around $3,185 per person yearly.
- The Boston Children’s Hospital implemented The Community Asthma Initiative (CAI) with the purpose of supporting children with asthma in the Boston area. The initiative helped reduce hospital admissions due to asthma-related causes by around 80 percent as well as reducing emergency visits due to asthma by 60 percent.
The report concludes that there are 10 main public health issues that need addressing:
- tobacco use
- healthy aging
- improving the health of minorities
- healthy babies
- environment health threats
- injury prevention
- controlling infectious diseases
- food safety
Written by Joseph Nordqvist