Chronic health diseases are posing an enormous burden on employees, employers, and the healthcare system. According to many studies, value-based care models must help improve population health and reduce healthcare costs. Although value-based healthcare is still gaining traction, many are looking to overcome the root causes of these diseases by changing lifestyle behaviors.
The increasing healthcare costs have affected the US health system and companies that reimburse employee healthcare expenses. Although many attempts have been made through multiple reimbursement models to control the increasing costs, the outcomes have not been very impressive. And so, the focus has shifted to preventing or reducing healthcare risks by improving lifestyle habits. A previous compiled research study revealed that companies can save up to $730 billion on modifiable health risks by improving lifestyle habits.
According to a recent CDC report, almost 90% of the annual $3.8 trillion spent towards healthcare costs is due to accumulated chronic and mental health conditions. Also, the effects of chronic health diseases and their associated costs have become one of the key bases of bankruptcy in the United States.
A recent National Health Interview Survey Data showed that of the patients diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, almost 41% suffered from financial issues due to their medical expenses. People diagnosed with type-2 diabetes incurred around $16,750 annual medical expenses, with almost $9600 spent directly towards diabetes-related costs. The other expensive healthcare conditions included Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), for which individuals had to pay $2000 annually from their pockets with insurance, and obesity that generated $3508 annually per person in total healthcare costs.
Intensive Therapeutic Lifestyle Medicine to Reduce Healthcare Costs
A recent study conducted by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine suggested that therapeutic lifestyle medicine can help reverse chronic diseases, ultimately helping in saving expensive healthcare costs.
The study investigated 4 different patient cases of disease reversal that were achieved by making intensive changes to their individual lifestyle habits. This also echoed the reduction of the associated healthcare costs. According to the study, an adult male who lost almost 200 pounds after following a healthy lifestyle for 6 months was able to save almost $92,000 by avoiding different medical costs.
Supporting the claim made by CDC regarding the high healthcare costs of accumulated chronic and mental health conditions, research experts at ACLM backed the idea of lifestyle medicine improving overall health and wellbeing, thus reducing the healthcare cost burden on individuals, employers, and the healthcare system.
So, what exactly is Lifestyle Medicine?
According to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based therapeutic mediation. This approach promotes healthy lifestyle habits like a dominant plant-based eating model, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, avoiding substance abuse, giving up harmful addictions, stress management, and cultivating healthy social connections.
Lifestyle Medicine Study Outcomes
The ACLM study gathered data from case studies conducted by participants through online surveys. Their medical history, lifestyle data, and healthcare details were collected to adopt the right lifestyle medicine approach.
According to the study outcomes, cost savings of around $18,000 – $35,000 were recorded for potential gastric bypass surgeries. Compared to $19,000 in 2009, the annual pharmaceutical costs paid by the participant’s insurer came down to around $122.24, combined for 2015 and 2016. A former obese member saved around $58,000 to $68,000 by avoiding bilateral knee replacements. Many other participants reported saving considerable amounts on their health appointment copays, grocery bills, and more.
According to the study, lifestyle medicine has enormous potential to improve health and wellbeing, reflecting lower healthcare costs and a better quality of life.
According to the study, lifestyle medicine has enormous potential to improve health and wellbeing, reflecting lower healthcare costs and a better quality of life. However, the researchers noted that further studies are required to understand the adequate effects and measures to implementing intensive therapeutic lifestyle medicine intervention as a key approach.
Experts at Lifestyle Medicine Center, Midland Health in Midland, Texas, reported that chronic diseases are a huge burden to individuals and the entire healthcare system. While the current health care measures are aligned with disease management models, they might not really work out well for lifestyle medicine providers who aim at disease reduction and reversal.
While this study provides the lead for similar study patterns, the full benefits of lifestyle medicine are yet to be explored well.