1 oz. Prevention = 1 oz. Cure

In a previous post, I reported on an article in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine that dispells the myth that, ahem, investing in additional preventive care would save money. I titled the post, “An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth … What?” A snarky colleague emailed to say, essentially, “Duh, it’s worth a pound of cure …”

But that’s just the point: an ounce of prevention is not worth a pound of cure. The authors of that article included this graph, which shows that prevention and cure match up fairly evenly when it comes to cost-effectiveness:

Distribution of Cost-Effectiveness Ratios for Preventive Measures and Treatments for Existing Conditions. Data are from the Tufts–New England Medical Center Cost-Effectiveness Registry. QALY denotes quality-adjusted life-year

In other words, it appears that Mr. Franklin over-valued prevention by a factor of 16, and if we want to improve health we would do as well to invest in cure as in prevention.