All the brouhaha in Mississippi over Medicaid expansion might obscure a very important fact – that even with all the money, and the biggest workforce, in the world, clinical treatment won’t do much to improve overall health outcomes. And improving outcomes is, after all, our principal objective, is it not?
Don’t take my word for it. I just attended a conference of the National Network of Public Health Institutes in New Orleans, at which the kickoff speaker, Dr. Georges Benjamin, MD – executive director of the American Public Health Association – pointed out, emphatically and convincingly, citing a mountain of research evidence, that no more than 10% of health outcomes can be attributed to clinical interventions such as doctor visits. Far greater impact on health results from environmental, socio-economic, policy, cultural and behavioral factors. Hence far more attention needs to be given to disease prevention and wellness promotion by affecting those contributing factors than to clinical disease intervention.
And the critical element in successful prevention and wellness promotion efforts? Easy enough to say, if challenging to effect: “Making the healthy choice the easy choice.” Now that ‘s something we should all be able to agree on, whatever your position on Medicaid expansion.