David Leonhardt’s recent New York Times article “Free Lunch on Health? Think Again” on the economics of preventative medicine suggests the cost of preventative care for the vast majority of healthy individuals does not save money in the long run. The argument seems to go something like … most of the cost of healthcare goes toward a small percent of very sick people and that spending on preventative care does not do much to reduce the size of this already small group. It seems that spending a ‘little on a lot’ of healthy people is equivalent to spending a ‘lot on a little’ group of people.
This seems to me to be one of the big challenges for personalized medicine. How will bio-marker and IT-technologies be deployed to save money? Perhaps when it is cheap, reliable, trustworthy, consumer-friendly and useful enough to encourage individuals to get involved (ie. rewards consumers for paying out of their own pockets) ? Hmmm.