Invest in Health or Pay for Illness

Rethink health as an investment
Esther Dyson is executive founder of Way to Wellville.

One useful thing the government could do that also happens to be innovative (as in “new,” rather than technically amazing) is to start counting financial outlays on health as investing rather than spending. That simple change would lead to much broader changes: focusing on what we get for this money rather than merely how much something costs.

For example: If we, as a society, spend X this year on preventing diabetes in certain people, how much will we save on not having to treat those same people for diabetes next year? And that’s where more “traditional innovation” comes in, because we can use Big Data to measure the outcomes versus the predictions.

In short, we should focus on investing in health rather than just renting it, on paying for health itself instead of just after loss of health care. In the long run, we will have invested in an asset–health– that helps people cope better with all kinds of diseases, mental decline and the general challenges of aging.

(Read the full article, “11 Bright Ideas for Washington,” here.)