Health Prevention:

Cost-effective Services in Recent Peer-Reviewed Health Care Literature

GAO-14-789R: Published: Aug 11, 2014. Publicly Released: Aug 11, 2014.

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James C. Cosgrove
(202) 512-7114
cosgrovej@gao.gov

 

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What GAO Found

GAO reported on preventive health services that were found to be cost-effective and/or cost saving in meta-analyses or comparative studies published in peer-reviewed journals from January 2007 to April 2014. GAO categorized each service identified in the review into a preventive health type (e.g., clinical intervention, screening, or vaccination), and provided information on the target population, whether a service was cost saving, and whether a service had been recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force or the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Why GAO Did This Study

Cost-effective preventive health services, such as immunizations and screening, may assist providers in helping patients avoid the onset or worsening of various health conditions. Services are determined to be cost-effective when they improve the benefit (e.g., health outcomes) in a less costly way than a given alternative. Some preventive services may also result in cost savings where the cost of implementing the service is less than the expected future costs to treat a disease or condition. GAO previously reported on available information about the cost-effectiveness of and cost savings from preventive health services in December 2012. GAO found that multiple factors affect these estimates, including the population targeted for a health benefit (e.g., children and high-risk populations) and assumptions about effectiveness of the service (e.g., how many years of protection a vaccine provides). Given the lack of readily available detailed information on the value of preventive services, GAO was asked for additional information on the services that may be potentially cost-effective or cost saving. In this report GAO examined recent peer-reviewed literature to identify preventive services that were shown to be cost-effective and the extent of potential cost savings of these services. GAO conducted a literature review of articles about U.S. preventive services in meta-analyses or comparative studies in peer-reviewed journals published between January 2007 and April 2014 that addressed cost-effectiveness or cost savings. A total of 29 articles met GAO’s inclusion criteria.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is not making any recommendations. 

For more information, contact James Cosgrove at 202-512-7114 or CosgroveJ@gao.gov.

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