"Less than four cents of every health care dollar is spent on prevention and public health."
Democratic National Committee on Wednesday, August 13th, 2008 in the Democratic Party platform
Yes, only an ounce on prevention
The platform states: "Yet despite all of this, less than four cents of every health care dollar is spent on prevention and public health."
This is true.
A report in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that 3 percent of total health expenditures went toward preventative health care.
The 1992 report looked at figures from the Health Care Financing Administration about the costs of different kinds of health care. The authors included spending that either reduced disease and injury or enhanced health.
The small percentage from that long-ago report is still widely repeated. An article May 28, 2008, in the Journal of the American Medical Association about preventive medicine refers for cost estimates to an article in the Harvard Health Policy Review in fall 2006, which cites the 1992 report. The Harvard publication also mentions a 2006 article in Health Affairs by former surgeon general David Satcher that estimated spending on preventive care at less than 2 percent.
In 2004 testimony before a Senate subcommittee, Dr. Dean Ornish, a professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, described how three-quarters of health-care spending goes toward chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. But he said less than 2 percent was spent on preventing those ailments.
We should note, we're not ruling on whether preventive care is cost effective, but rather on the specific claim that we're currently spending only 4 percent on it.
We would like to be using figures more recent than 1992, but that appears to be the last time researchers used government figures to calculate the percentage of health care spending that goes to prevention. With that in mind, we have to say the Democratic Party platform claim is True.
Published: Tuesday, August 26th, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.
Subjects: Health Care
Sources:Democratic National Convention Committee, Report of the Platform Committee, "Renewing America's Promise," Aug. 13, 2008
CDC, "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on disease prevention," July 24, 1992
Senate Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services and related agencies, Testimony of Dr. Dean Ornish, July 15, 2004
Journal of the American Medical Association, "The Power of Prevention and What it Requires," May 28, 2008
Harvard Health Policy Review, "The Big Answer: Rediscovering Prevention at a Time of Crisis in Health Care"
Health Affairs, 25, No. 4, 2006
We want to hear your suggestions and comments.
For tips or comments on our Obameter and our GOP-Pledge-O-Meter promise databases, please e-mail the Obameter. If you are commenting on a specific promise, please include the wording of the promise.For comments about our Truth-O-Meter or Flip-O-Meter items, please e-mail the Truth-O-Meter. We’re especially interested in seeing any chain e-mails you receive that you would like us to check out. If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.
Keep up to date with Politifact:
- Sign up for our e-mail (about once a week)
- Put a free PolitiFact widget on your blog or Web page
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Truth-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on GOP Pledge-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Obameter items
- Advertise on PolitiFact
- Shop the PolitiFact store for T-shirts, hats and other PolitiFact swag