Preventing Diseases Before They Happen
We know that we need health reform to ensure Americans get the high-quality, affordable care they need and deserve. Under the status quo, too many Americans canít get the affordable care they need when they fall ill. But health reform must make health care more than just sick care. Real health reform must also improve the health of our nation by investing in critical prevention and wellness initiatives that help keep Americans healthy and out of the hospital in the first place.
Today, Americans spend more on health care than any other country in the world, yet we donít live longer. Scientists say this generation of American children may not live as long as their parents did. If we do nothing, many of them will grow up to develop a chronic disease that could have been prevented if we created incentives to encourage wellness rather than just focusing on treatment.
When we help Americans quit smoking, prevent obesity and give them the tools and information they need to live healthier lives, we all benefit. Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States and are an incredible drain on our health care system. 85 percent of the money spent on health care goes toward people with at least one chronic condition. Some of these conditions include diabetes, heart disease and obesity Ė conditions that we know we can prevent.
The American people remember the old adage and they know that an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure. That is just one of the reasons why helping to prevent disease and illness also has strong public support. A poll released this week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that Americans overwhelmingly rank prevention as a top priority for health reform.
Preventing illness and disease is an essential component of health reform. We know that it isnít enough to provide coverage and keep doing the same thing. Health reform can help stop diseases before they happen. It can make our homes, our communities and our families healthier, safer and stronger. Itís time to make preventing illness and disease the foundation of our health care system.