Use of dietary supplements helps reduce social healthcare costs

30 September 2013 | News | By Bureau Report

Use of specific dietary supplements in targeted populations not only provides health benefits, but, according to a new economic report, also offers significant savings for health care costs.

A report, “Smart Prevention—Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements,” issued by Frost & Sullivan, through a grant from the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) Foundation, USA examined four different chronic diseases and the potential for health care cost savings.

The study was conducted on U.S. adults, 55 and older, diagnosed with these chronic diseases, using one of eight different dietary supplement regimens. It demonstrated that supplementation at preventive intake levels in high-risk populations can reduce the number of disease-associated medical events, representing the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars of savings.

“Chronic disease takes a huge toll on people’s quality of life, and the health care system spends a tremendous amount of money treating chronic disease, but has failed to focus on ways to reduce those costs through prevention,” said Steve Mister, president, CRN Foundation. “We already knew that the dietary supplements identified in the report can play a role in reducing the risk of certain chronic diseases; we felt compelled to find out if they could also contribute to health care cost savings by reducing the medical events associated with those conditions. This new report says emphatically that they do.”

In the U.S., 75% of health care dollars go to the treatment of chronic disease, with only 3% spent on prevention, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medical events—that is, inpatient procedures and emergency room visits—related to coronary heart disease, one of the conditions examined in this report, are expected to cost $77.92 billion per year.

However, according to the Frost & Sullivan report, if men and women, 55 years and older, with elevated cholesterol level took psyllium dietary fiber at preventive intake levels daily, the cost savings for coronary heart disease could be almost $2.5 billion dollars a year, equating to just under $19.9 billion in cumulative net savings between 2013 and 2020. Similarly, if all women over 55 with osteoporosis took calcium and vitamin D at preventive intake levels daily, society could save $1.5 billion dollars a year, or just over $12 billion dollars between 2013 and 2020.

To identify these potential savings, Frost & Sullivan conducted a systematic review of hundreds of scientific studies on eight dietary supplement regimens across four diseases to determine the reduction in disease risk from these preventive practices. The firm then projected the rates of medical events across the high-risk populations and applied cost benefit analyses to determine the cost savings if people at high risk took supplements at preventive intake levels.

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