This report is based on the ILC-UK/Actuarial Profession joint debate on preventative healthcare in an ageing society which took place on 3 November 2010. The debate was kindly supported by Sanofi Pasteur MSD.

The debate was chaired by Baroness Jill Pitkeathley. Speakers were Professor Mark Suhrcke from the University of East Anglia and Dr Richard Pitman from Oxford Outcomes.

Panellists were Dr David Heymann from the Health Protection Agency, Mr Russell Turner from Marks and Spencer and Mr Darrell Gale from Wiltshire PCT.

The debate sought to examine questions including:
• Is preventative healthcare now an economic necessity for an ageing society?
• How can the economic benefit of preventative healthcare be assessed?
• How can preventative healthcare contribute to employment and well being among older workers?
• At what age is preventative healthcare most effective?

Among the points raised were:
• The prevention of chronic diseases should be assessed on a value for money rather than cost-saving basis;
• Assessing the value of prevention should look at indirect costs such as productivity, welfare costs and the costs and benefits to others e.g. carers, family members
• There is considerable evidence for the cost-saving impact of vaccination particularly flu vaccination, despite the fact that herd immunity is never factored into calculations;
• There is a need for further research to identify “best buys” in preventative healthcare.

Author: Rebecca Taylor

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