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Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013

Understanding Obamacare: Preventive Medicine Is Key

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Question: How does the Affordable Care Act help keep us healthy?

Answer: The Affordable Care Act includes the Prevention Fund, which is intended to prevent diseases and keep us healthy. This fund looks at data-tested ways to save money and keep us healthier and helps communities to implement strategies that will allow families to raise healthier kids. How do we do that? By shifting the focus from sick care to well care.

Common sense tells us prevention is a worthwhile investment in our greatest resource—our citizens. And this investment has a high return, because it helps to curb costs associated with poor health. In fact, some of the most chronic diseases are also quite preventable. For example, 80% of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, and 40% of cancers, could be prevented by exercising, eating better and avoiding tobacco. As we move forward in healthcare it’s vital to keep that in mind, especially when an estimated seven out of 10 deaths and roughly 75% of health spending is because of chronic diseases that could be prevented.

The Prevention Fund supports efforts to combat the causes of disease, such as tobacco prevention and mitigating environmental health risks. The fund improves our public health infrastructure by fully modernizing health departments and training the new public health workforce. This means local jobs and job trainings will be available to our workers.

Additionally, the Prevention Fund is helping businesses set up wellness programs for their staff. These wellness programs not only keep us healthier, they make economic sense. Every $1 invested in workplace wellness not only reduces medical costs by $3.27 but also saves $2.73 in absenteeism costs. Workplace wellness programs reduce sick leave, worker’s comp, disability costs and health plan costs by 25%.

The Affordable Care Act makes smart investments in our people, making both health and economic sense. Prevention saves lives and money.

—Kevin Kane, lead organizer, Citizen Action of Wisconsin

The Shepherd Express and Citizen Action of Wisconsin will answer questions about the Affordable Care Act during its implementation. Got a question? Email editor@shepex.com.

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