How a Multivitamin could save Medicare $1.6 Billion Annually
by Dr. Neifert
I recently read an article in a professional journal about vitamins versus drugs for the elderly. It gave me “cause to pause”. We are all either over 65 or know someone who is. The baby boom generation will soon turn 65+ and cause a huge shift to the health industry for their care. Our current national cost for healthcare is 1.6 trillion dollars. That’s just under $5,000 for every American, every year. Those costs include hospital stays, doctor visits, prescriptions, and like items. That number is expected to double in the next ten years.
A proactive, preventative approach was formulated and studied for the most ill population-geriatric patients. The idea was to provide vitamins as a routine benefit of Medicare. These would be paid for out of Medicare funds. The results may astound you. The Lewin group, an international consulting firm, reviewed over 250 peer-reviewed journals and studies on nutrition and diet as they related to the five prevalent diseases of the elderly. Following accounting procedures used by the Congressional Budget Office they reviewed costs from related Medicare patient average costs per illness.
The statement that sums it up is – “The evidence strongly indicates that daily use of multivitamins by the elderly is nearly risk-free and is potentially associated with significant health improvements. Based on the available evidence regarding risks and benefits, we concur with other researchers that use of daily multivitamins by the elderly has the potential for conferring substantial benefits to any public health initiative.”
What the bottom line for costs for a program that would give to every American over the age of 65 their own multivitamins every month is $2.339 billion for the year. Sounds expensive right? Wrong. The forecast of savings associated with improved health that would offset the cost of the program. $924 million in savings from fewer infections and their associated health care costs. $2.452 billion in savings for reduced heart attacks and their associated costs. $585 million offset in premium reductions. That’s a total of $3.961 billion in savings. Subtract the cost of the supplements and you get $1.622 billion in total savings for the Medicare program.
I have witnessed huge differences in vitamin sources. The majority of vitamins found today have parts of “natural vitamins”, usually with chemical fillers. Whole food supplements provide the best assimilation in a form that is complete and safe to use. Typically, whole food vitamins are not found in local drug or discount stores, or in most health food stores. There are three or so companies that manufacture whole food supplements. Of those, only Standard Process has their own organic farms where they vacuum process the foods to maintain enzymes and nutrients as close to fresh as possible. Ultimately, they also are the most cost efficient for the patients. I have seen rapid and dramatic changes to patients, both old and young who switch from the drug store brand to the whole food source.
Should Medicare send vitamins to all 65yr olds and older to decrease costs of health care, I hope they send Standard Process supplements. I feel that the benefits would surpass the projections in the Lewin report.
Far beyond the financial picture painted here, consider the more important benefit of increased quality of life for the geriatric, and every patient who uses these supplements.