Recently, Representative Nathan Deal, who represents a district in my home state of Georgia (unfortunately so does David Scott), asked the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office for an “analysis of the budgetary effects of proposals to expand governmental support for preventive medical care and wellness services”.

Douglas W. Elmendorf, Director of the CBO, provided the requested analysis in a letter on Friday to Congressman Deal.

Although different types of preventive care have different effects on spending, the evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall.

That result may seem counterintuitive. For example, many observers point to cases in which a simple medical test, if given early enough, can reveal a condition that is treatable at a fraction of the cost of treating that same illness after it has progressed. In such cases, an ounce of prevention improves health and reduces spending—for that individual. But when analyzing the effects of preventive care on total spending for health care, it is important to recognize that doctors do not know beforehand which patients are going to develop costly illnesses. To avert one case of acute illness, it is usually necessary to provide preventive care to many patients, most of whom would not have suffered that illness anyway. . . . Researchers who have examined the effects of preventive care generally find that the added costs of widespread use of preventive services tend to exceed the savings from averted illness.

It really should come as no surprise that when something is seen as “free” that demand skyrockets. In this case, since preventative care would be “free”, far more people seek it when it is likely not necessary in all cases.

Though I have never believed that the government could “save” money doing much of anything, this is a significant blow to their position on healthcare. But will anyone in America pay attention? Or will they continue to lap up everything “The One” preaches to them?

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