The Wellness Trust

There’s No Excuse: Americans Need Preventive Health System Overhaul

Read Jeanne Lambrew and John Podesta’s Op-Ed in The Washington Post

The U.S. is plagued by preventable diseases that have a devastating impact on health and contribute to the nation’s soaring health care costs. Proven preventive services remain largely unused, and the promotion of healthy communities and lifestyles is undervalued.

According to a new report by Center for American Progress’s Jeanne Lambrew and John Podesta, “Promoting Prevention and Preempting Costs: A New Wellness Trust for the U.S.,” these problems occur at several levels. Most people neither know what they need nor value prevention. Health care providers, by training, put disease treatment ahead of disease prevention. Insurers have little incentive to invest in preventive services today that will benefit other insurers tomorrow. And, as a nation, we dedicate only three percent of our health dollars on health promotion – but over 20 percent of costs to the last year of life.

About 70 percent of deaths and costs in the U.S. are attributable to chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer – diseases that can be prevented or controlled. Fewer than half of adults receive recommended preventive services, costing us millions of lives and billions of dollars.

A new approach is needed. CAP’s proposal is a so-called Wellness Trust, which would prioritize prevention in the U.S. health system. These policy recommendations are buttressed by two additional papers, “Joining Hands: Partnerships Between Physicians and the Community in the Delivery of Preventive Health Care,” and “The Human Dimension: Strengthening the Prevention Workforce.”

Together, they represent a serious new approach to our nation’s health care problems that would improve Americans’ health and help cut soaring health care costs.

To view the three full reports, please go to:

Promoting Prevention and Preempting Costs: A New Wellness Trust for the United States, by Jeanne M. Lambrew and John D. Podesta

The Human Dimension: Strengthening the Prevention Workforce, by Kristine M. Gebbie, DrPH, RN

Joining Hands: Partnerships Between Physicians and the Community in the Delivery of Preventive Care, by Steven H. Woolf, MD, MPH