‘It is impossible to estimate what prevention will yield’

‘It is impossible to estimate what prevention will yield’
‘It is impossible to estimate what prevention will yield’
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Prevention does not have to pay for itself but must be cost-effective. Health economist Jochen Mierau concludes this from the VWS advice ‘Valuing prevention’. We therefore asked you: Prevention is too much about what it costs and not enough about what it yields.

Illustration: Mette Dijkstra | Canva

Seventeen of the nineteen respondents agreed with this statement. “We keep talking to each other for too long about effectiveness or money and lose ourselves in system discussions,” writes a reader.

Short term culture

Prevention is not valued because of ‘the short-term culture’, both in politics and in society at large, a reader thinks. “We live in a time when all investments must have the same effect, patience is hard to find,” said a board secretary from elderly care.

“Imagine that the effects only become visible during the next cabinet period, then someone else will take the credit.” According to the reader, it must therefore be a long-term vision with a prominent place for prevention in order to be and remain successful as a society. “Stop looking for obstacles and start working together on prevention as a government, health insurers and employers.”

A respondent also writes that due to the short-term blinders, focused on costs, the returns are not seen. He argues for a smarter approach to prevention interventions that have a high chance of increasing costs.

Politics move

And more responses emphasize that it is politicians’ turn to get started on prevention. The short political cycle is a major obstacle. According to a senior advisor, the discussion about the costs of prevention is not often discussed in politics. “Politicians do not want to tackle the cause, but only treat the symptoms. Scoring with prevention is not attractive. Politicians prefer to do this with measures that will quickly hit people’s pockets, such as lower healthcare costs.” According to the advisor, the greatest benefit would come from politicians talking about the costs of prevention.

A public affairs officer wonders why we value staying healthy lower than healing. The report ‘valuing prevention’ therefore contains justified recommendations, the employee believes. Paulusma’s motion, in which she requests that the government follow the advice of the Prevention Knowledge Platform to develop an instrument to determine the broad costs and benefits of prevention, has now received a majority in the House of Representatives. “Now let’s see how VWS implements this.”

An important topic on the political agenda is social security. According to an advisor, prevention is part of this. “Good prevention and infrastructure provides trust and the basis for self-management, self-reliance and co-reliance.”

Valuing prevention

According to a disability care worker, it is impossible to estimate the benefits of prevention. “How can you prove what has not been spent? And which factors do you take into account, the money or the well-being of the community?” According to the employee, it is important to consider whether you are tackling the right factors in the right way.

Awareness and ownership are currently lacking in society, writes a director from elderly care. “If we do not focus more on prevention and awareness, every transformation is doomed to fail.” According to the director, this should not primarily be about costs and revenues. Healthier living and ownership mean that less demand is made for professional care and support. “Ultimately, prevention results in cost savings.”

Not critical

A GP disagrees with the statement. “We are not sufficiently critical of the sustainable effects of all our efforts. There are almost no effects of labor-intensive interventions from healthcare, this valuable time can be better used in a different way. Effects are mainly achieved through rigorous government measures.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: impossible estimate prevention yield

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