Lower Your Health Care Costs with What You Eat

Topics: Aging and Costs of Aging

Your Financial Prescriptions: Seven Tips for Cutting Your Medical Costs (Wall Street Journal 04.07.09) completely missed the biggest potential tip of all: what you eat.

The right health insurance? Check. Compare hospitals? Check. The right health insurance again? Check. Check your hospital bill? Check. Taking the meds you need? Check again.

Food? Exercise? One line, out of hundreds.

Dollars re-allocated from a conventional diet to a better one have been shown to deliver a significant return on investment. Not to mention a potentially tasty one.

An Australian 2007 cost-effectiveness review of ten nutrition interventions found that each were more cost-effective per life-year gained than antihypertensive medications and the cholesterol-lowering medication simvastatin. Cost savings ranged from $1364 to $13,939 per life-year gained.

A Swedish 2007 cost-effectiveness study found the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study for men and women at risk to be “cost-saving from the healthcare payers’ perspective,” and increase survival by 0.18 years.

A French 2006 cost-effectiveness study based on the randomized, controlled Lyon Diet Heart Study and conservative assumptions, found the Mediterranean Diet to be “highly cost-effective for persons after a first myocardial infarction and represents an exceptional return on investment.”

But you don’t need to wait for better food in the cafeteria to lower your direct medical costs and improve productivity. Although that would help.

Spend a little more at the grocer’s and you’ll spend a lot less at the doctor’s. And be happier, too.