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Health Value Awards

Al Lewis

The wellness withhold provision in the Affordable Care Act codifies the CDC’s  2009 “Call to Action” about chronic disease: The Power to Prevent, the Call to Control. On the summary page, we learn some of what the CDC calls “arresting facts”:

  1.  “Chronic diseases cause seven in 10 deaths each year in the U.S.”
  2.   “About 133 million Americans — nearly one in two adults — live with at least one chronic illness.”
  3.   “75% of our healthcare spending is on people with chronic conditions.”

More recently, they decided that 75% was not a high enough statistic to get people’s attention, so they changed it to 86%. Most recently, they’ve upped the third statistic to 90%. More on that later.

The most “arresting fact” is how head-scratching these CDC claims are…and of how they created the wellness legend.

Take the first statement — “chronic diseases cause seven in 10 deaths.” We have to die of something. Would it be better to die of suicides and homicides? Mercury poisoning? Barbecuing rattlesnakes?

The CDC’s second statistic is also a head-scratcher. Only 223 million Americans were old enough to drink in 2009; divide 133 million into that number, and you see that a whopping 60% of adults, not “nearly one in two,” live with at least one chronic illness. So they got that part wrong but…Read More

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