Regina Benjamin Continues Crusade for Wellness
HealthLeaders: How do we, as a country, balance the challenges of lowering the overall cost of care while assuring access to care for all who need it?
Benjamin: That is the big challenge that we have as a country. I don't like to put a value on a person's life because I think there is no dollar sign you can put on someone's health or their life. But the reality is we have to keep costs under control in order to have healthcare and for people to have access to it. I do think prevention offers the best opportunity, particularly prevention of chronic disease.
If we start to do things that are listed in our National Prevention Strategy like increasing exercise, eating healthier, decreasing smoking, and decreasing excessive alcohol use, those four things can really change the health outcomes of a community. If we focus on those behavioral changes, we can really change the curve. Common sense tells you that if you prevent people from getting sick, it's much cheaper, so prevention offers the best opportunity to improve our healthcare system as well as keep costs down.
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