U.S. spends too little on public health initiatives: report

April 10, 2012
U.S. spends too little on public health initiatives: report
Just $251 per person goes annually toward programs to prevent costly chronic diseases.

(HealthDay) -- The United States needs to spend more on its chronically underfunded public health system and use that money more efficiently, according to an Institute of Medicine report released Tuesday.

The United States spends more on health than any other nation -- nearly $2.5 trillion in 2009 -- but has lower scores on life expectancy, infant survival and other indicators of than other wealthy nations, according to the report.

department initiatives, services and expertise can help prevent or decrease rates of that account for the bulk of rising U.S. health spending, the authors report.

However, only 3.1 percent of U.S. health spending went to government-administered public health in 2009, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid's National Health Expenditure Accounts. That works out to $251 per person in public health spending, compared with $8,086 per person in spending.

The report calls for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish new goals for life expectancy and per-person health spending. The hope is that setting targets will motivate public health and medical care professionals to work together to maximize the value of health spending, and that public health skills and knowledge are used to address some of the biggest issues facing the larger health care system, such as the unnecessary use of medical procedures.

To achieve efficient use of public health dollars, the report recommended that the U.S. National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council -- created by the Act -- should establish the minimum level of every community should receive from its state and local health departments.

In addition, the council should create an expert panel to determine how much money is needed for every public health department to provide at least these minimum services, and to determine the proportion of federal that needs to be spent in public health and medical care in order to get better value, the report said.

"Developing and implementing strategic population-based efforts to improve our health as a nation will increase the quality of life and productivity of Americans at the same time that it will contribute to moderating the expense of the clinical care system," report committee chair Dr. Marthe Gold, a professor and chair of the department of community health and social medicine at City College of New York, said in a National Academies news release.

"The country's failure to maximize the conditions in which people can be healthy continues to take a growing toll on the economy and on society. As the backbone of the health system, public health departments could help communities and other partners engage in efforts and policies that lead to better population health," Gold said.

Explore further: Study suggests increase in public health spending results in healthier people

More information: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about public health service agencies.

Related Stories

Study suggests increase in public health spending results in healthier people

August 5, 2011
A groundbreaking new study published in the journal, Health Affairs, suggests that increases in public health spending result in healthier people, especially in communities with fewer resources.

Government should consider public health implications of all major legislation

June 21, 2011
Because strong evidence indicates that policies beyond the health sector have substantial effects on people's health, all levels of U.S. government should adopt a structured approach to considering the health effects of any ...

New report: US investment in health research remains stagnant

September 8, 2011
The U.S. public and private sectors invested $140.5 billion in 2010 on research to find new ways to treat, cure and prevent disease and disability, according to Research!America's latest annual estimate, available at http://www.researchamerica.org/uploads/healthdollar10.pdf.

Federal agencies should take advantage of opportunities to promote integration of primary care and public health

March 28, 2012
The traditional separation between primary health care providers and public health professionals is impeding greater success in meeting their shared goal of ensuring the health of populations, says a new report from the Institute ...

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.