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Public health dollars now pay off later

2012-09-09T00:00:00Z 2012-09-09T14:45:06Z Public health dollars now pay off later The Billings Gazette
September 09, 2012 12:00 am

As a public health nurse educator, I was pleased to see the Aug. 26 guest opinion regarding public health. Money which is set aside for public health will reduce the overall cost of health care. If we do not pay up front for prevention, we pay significantly for the disease burden. Health care expenditures were 5.1 percent of the overall health care budget in 1960. In 2010 we spent 17.3 percent.

Public health services affect us all. The services ensure food and water safety, response to disasters and the education of people about the prevention of communicable and chronic diseases. Population-based spending is about 3 percent of the overall health care budget. The overall cost of health care has increased at a rate greater than the inflation rate since the 1960s. Do we want to pay for end-stage disease when we could be preventing disease in the first place? It makes sense to prevent disease rather than treat it!

I will encourage our congressional delegation not to allow spending cuts to public health. This is about saving money, not spending it!

Carolyn Wenger, MSN, RN

Billings

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